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Mowat: Integration fund could finance minor ailments

Pharmacy minister David Mowat answered MPs questions during the final health questions of the year yesterday (December 20).

The pharmacy minister has hinted that the pharmacy integration fund could be "set aside" to finance minor ailments schemes.

During parliamentary health questions in the House of Commons yesterday (December 20), David Mowat responded to a question asked by Scottish National Party MP Martyn Day.

Mr Day said that community pharmacies in Scotland have provided minor ailments services, chronic medication and public health services for several years, and asked how Mr Mowat would develop the full potential within English community services to offer similar services.

Mr Mowat responded that the £300 million pharmacy integration fund has been "set aside" and will be used to “do just the things” that Mr Day called for, “in terms of minor ailments and repeat prescriptions”.

“We are determined to make that happen,” Mr Mowat added.

In response, NHS England told C+D it would test NHS 111 referrals to locally commissioned minor ailment schemes in community pharmacies from December 2016 to April 2018  but did not confirm whether the integration fund would be used to finance the pilot.

In October, shortly after announcing the government's funding package, Mr Mowat suggested during a parliamentary debate that by April 2018, pharmacists will be paid “over and above any money that comes out of the settlement for minor ailments”.

But the Department of Health (DH) quickly moved to clarify Mr Mowat's previous statements and ruled out any additional money for minor ailments. Several MPs criticised Mr Mowat for making "glaring factual inaccuracies" during the October debate. 

More pharmacists on CCGs

In yesterday's parliamentary session, former pharmacy minister Alistair Burt urged Mr Mowat to ensure that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) “engage as effectively as possible with pharmacies”.

“Preferably that would be by getting more people on CCG boards,” Mr Burt said.

In response, Mr Mowat said Mr Burt “was right”, as CCGs are “variable in the extent to which they commission pharmacy services.”

“We have set out the minor ailments scheme and we expect every CCG to take part in it,” he stressed. 

Are you involved with your local CCG?

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

This explains all the mixed negotiating messages coming out at the moment - one hand wants to revolutionalise something, and the other hand quickly points out that there is no money! Why not sit down and decide the strategy before coming out with half-baked messages?! One minute it's urgent care, NHS111 then minor ailments - please make up your minds, especially as I've yet to see a single £ mentioned in any of these schemes!!

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

It's clear the government hasn't got a clue!

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