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'Brine told me there's no plan to fund national minor ailments scheme'

Julie Cooper: Lack of a national minor ailments scheme is "hugely disappointing"
Julie Cooper: Lack of a national minor ailments scheme is "hugely disappointing"

Pharmacy minister Steve Brine has no plans to roll out a national pharmacy-led minor ailments scheme, Labour MP Julie Cooper has claimed.

The pharmacy minister “confirmed to me in writing” on May 3 that a national minor ailments service will “not be happening”, the Labour MP for Burnley claimed.

“There are no plans at all to do that," Ms Cooper told an all-party pharmacy group (APPG) meeting last week (May 14).

In an excerpt of a letter to Ms Cooper – which she shared with C+D – Mr Brine stated that, while there are no plans for a national minor ailments scheme, “over 11,000 pharmacies are providing clinical support, including urgent medicine supplies through the Quality [Payments] Scheme”.

C+D has contacted Mr Brine to confirm the contents of the letter.

Mr Brine's decision not to invest in a national minor ailments scheme is “hugely disappointing”, Ms Cooper told C+D last week (May 18).

“I do not believe that the minister has full appreciation of the professional capabilities of pharmacists and this decision is further evidence [of that] and really is a missed opportunity,” she added.

In October, Mr Brine was asked by Labour MP Paula Sherriff what the government is doing to “specifically buck the trend” of the decommissioning of local minor ailments schemes, and was reminded that “in 2016 ministers committed to encouraging every clinical commissioning group (CCG) to have a minor ailments service”.

In response, Mr Brine said at the time: “Things have moved on…The clock has moved on.”

Pharmacy's role in managing chronic conditions

Representatives from the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA), and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) all gave evidence at the APPG meeting on community pharmacy’s role in managing patients’ chronic conditions.

“Some of the things we are hearing about here are absolutely excellent,” said Ms Cooper, who used to own and run a community pharmacy with her pharmacist husband. However, “it appears to me the person that needs to be convinced is actually the minister in charge”.

“I had a long detailed meeting with [Mr Brine] on this very issue,” Ms Cooper added. “I don’t think he’s getting the point.”

Steve Double, Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay, who co-chaired the meeting, claimed Mr Brine “absolutely gets it” and he is “not sure the problems are with the minister”.

Is a minor ailments scheme commissioned in your area?

Brian AUSTEN, Administration & Support

The DoH and NHS England don't need to commission a national MAS they have the free Pharmacy First service! Pharmacists keep proving what they can do but NHS England don't want anything that will result in increased funding. We're nearly two months into the financial year and still no idea about funding for 2018/2019. Mr Brine is an apologist for the Chancellor just like all his predecessors. Why bother communicating with a Pharmacy Minister that cannot change anything, he might as well be a Minister without portfolio.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

I've had the CCG tell me the local minor ailments scheme was dropped because a national scheme was to be rolled out - DOH's big wooden nose growing with each lie


Steve Brine - things have moved on but your knowlegde of community pharmacy and time (in seconds) spent working on the coal face remain at precisely 0, or as a percentage 0% if that helps

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

It was waste of time anyway. All that paperwork for a measly £5 or whatever. 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

key is delegation and sign it off. Exactly how receptionists print off repeats and the GP signs blindly

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

I guess this is because most MAS use products which are readily available OTC and the DoH has said they don't want to pay for such items. That's fine, just stop GPs bleating on about how "stressed" they are, or how much MORE money you should give them in order to DO THEIR JOB (because, frankly, £100K just doesn't cut it!) 

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

We had a MAS but it was decommissioned because the CCG were led to believe there would be a national scheme

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