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Scrapped minor ailments scheme will ‘increase inequality'

Wirral CCG pulled funding for the pharmacy minor ailments scheme in October 2016

A pharmacy group director has suggested Wirral clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) decision to scrap its minor ailments scheme will increase the “health inequality gap” in the area.

Peter Burrows, pharmacist and director of M & B Healthcare, voiced this concern in a letter to his local MP Angela Eagle, seen by C+D, after Wirral CCG terminated the scheme in October 2016. 

Mr Burrows argued the scheme had been scrapped with “no regard” for the consequential cost and effect on other parts of the NHS.

Discontinuing the minor ailments scheme “in one of the most deprived areas of Wirral” has impacted the “most vulnerable patients” in the community and increased pressure on local GP practices, he said. 

Wirral made the decision to stop funding its minor ailments scheme – part of its two-tier 'Think Pharmacy' programe – last year after feedback from a patient survey.

In a letter to pharmacies, seen by C+D, the CCG said that it found that 89% of patients surveyed agreed with stopping prescriptions of over-the-counter medication for minor ailments.

However, Mr Burrows said that in Leasowe Pharmacy – owned by his group – the minor ailments scheme was “heavily utilised” by patients, more than 200 times a month. 

“We have seen a sizeable increase in the number of prescriptions we are dispensing for items previously available on the scheme,” Mr Burrows told C+D today (January 30). “An obvious increase in costs to the NHS.”

Mr Burrows added that scrapping the scheme is "contrary to the future intentions" of pharmacy minister David Mowat, who announced last year that the government would like all CCGs to fund minor ailments schemes by April 2018.

C+D has approached Wirral CCG for comment.

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