Layer 1

NHS England considers national minor ailments scheme

NHS England's national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh: "We need to harness the skills of pharmacists."

The commissioning body will look into a national scheme as part of its ongoing review of urgent and emergency care

NHS England is considering rolling out a minor ailments scheme to all community pharmacies in a bid to save money and reduce pressure on general practice, C+D has learned.


A national scheme would drive patients from GP practices to pharmacies, creating efficiencies because of pharmacies' lower cost, NHS England's national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh said in a briefing document published ahead of its board meeting last month.


In the document, Sir Bruce suggested rolling out a national minor ailments scheme as part of the commissioning body's urgent and emergency care review, which it launched last year to create a sustainable urgent care system.


Although the proposal was not mentioned specifically at the board meeting on December 17, Sir Bruce outlined aspirations for a greater role for pharmacists, who could potentially work "close to or even in" A&E departments.


“We need to harness the skills of...pharmacists, who are highly trained individuals and can offer very good clinical advice for certain conditions,” he said.


Pharmacists in A&E

The briefing document also revealed details of a national pilot to place pharmacists in emergency departments. This would build on "innovative work" carried out in the West Midlands, where "pharmacy triage, advanced clinical pharmacy training and enhanced independent prescribing" had been trialled, it said.


The pilot, due to start in the spring, will assess whether placing pharmacists in A&E departments could improve the safety, experience and safe discharge of patients from hospital. NHS England was unable to confirm to C+D whether community pharmacists would take part in the scheme.

Last month, C+D learned that Devon pharmacists had saved 378 patients from trips to the GP in the first month of a government-funded minor ailments scheme.

In October, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society renewed its calls for a national minor ailments scheme and urged NHS decision-makers to give pharmacy a greater role in urgent and emergency care.


PSNC has consistently pushed for a national pharmacy minor ailments scheme but in November 2013 said NHS England was "very unlikely" to agree to it before the end of 2015.


How could a national minor ailments scheme reduce pressures on A&E?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


michael mustoe, Community pharmacist

How long is this going to take? There should only be two things to agree: how wide ranging should the minor ailments scheme be; and how much money should community pharmacists get. There is an obvious, and overwhelming need to get on with it, and start fully utilising the skills and ready availability of community pharmacists

Chad Harris, Community pharmacist

Nooooooo! More free stuff is not the answer. It just will fuel demand even more.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

"NHS England's national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh: "We need to harness the skills of pharmacists." " which was a statement he made in 2013.......................... and the result?

Chris Cairns, Academic pharmacist

We have a GP service which is struggling with demand. Our A&E departments are bursting at the seams. Am I the only one thinking why is England not like the rest of the UK and diverting large number of patients from GPs and A&E to pharmacists at what is not a great cost? Even those who run the DoH and NHS England must see this is a no-brainer.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

the problem is , as always , money. The hospitals and GPs are never going to say they are coping and are positively encouraged to run at "full stretch" or beyond because they know media and public pressure will bring even more money. Any scheme outside the hospital/GP axis takes money from "their" system and despite their rivalry over funding, they will unite extremely quickly to resist any thought of Pharmacy taking anything they see as rightfully theirs. Also, as the poster above says the wording doesnt inspire confidence in any sense if immediacy, or in fact of any understanding of how Pharmacy works

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The major difference between GPs and Pharmacists -- GPs make loud noise followed with strong actions that shakes the entire country ..... Pharmacists (basically their representative organisations) make noises for a while, then move on and accept whatever is thrown at them. That sums the current affairs.

Graham Phillips, Superintendent Pharmacist

Dear Anonymous "N O" spells "no" I agree the national bodies COULD do more. But, besides whingeing, what are YOU going to do about it?

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Not any more than you or i could do. We are a poorly represented to the pay-masters!!.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""""Although the proposal was not mentioned specifically at the board meeting on December 17, Sir Bruce outlined aspirations for a greater role for pharmacists""""" Points to note ---- ""Not mentioned"" & "" Aspirations"" Which means, we have a loooooooooooooong way to go.

Job of the week

Accreditation and Recognition Panel member positions
Home Based
On application