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Brine: 'I need legislation' to change 'sluggish' pharmacy contract

Steve Brine had a mock blood test for hepatitis C in Portmans Pharmacy, London
Steve Brine had a mock blood test for hepatitis C in Portmans Pharmacy, London

The pharmacy minister has said he needs legislation to change the “sluggish” national pharmacy contract for England.

Steve Brine branded the contract “a slow, one-button vehicle” during a visit to a London pharmacy delivering a hepatitis C testing pilot last month (April 19).

While at Portmans Pharmacy in Pimlico, Mr Brine heard how the pilot had entered its second three-month phase following a “successful” rollout that saw half of injecting drug users testing positive for hepatitis C (see video below).

The pilot ran across eight pharmacies – including Portmans – from November 2017 to February 2018, while the second phase began at the end of April.

Rekha Shah, pharmacy immunisations lead for London’s local pharmaceutical committees (LPCs), told Mr Brine that the pilot could not be replicated across London because “there isn't the framework within the pharmacy contract”.

In response, Mr Brine said: “It’s such a sluggish vehicle. I need primary legislation [to change it].”

The minister also promised to “talk to Jeremy [Hunt]” about hepatitis C, as he had already discussed it with the health and social care secretary that week, and that health minister Lord O’Shaughnessy “is really keen on this subject – like me”.

Hepatitis C is “one of those things we can beat”, Mr Brine said.

During the visit, the minister spoke with professionals in the sector, pictured above (left to right): London Joint Working Group (LJWG) policy lead Dee Cunniffe; LJWG co-chair and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital consultant hepatologist Dr Suman Verma; Portmans Pharmacy owner Anar Tejani and staff member Jesu Patel; Ms Shah; former Conservative MP for Kensington Victoria Borwick; MSD director of policy and communications James Read; and Sonar Informatics director Pritpal Thind.

Four days after the visit, the all-party pharmacy group announced that Mr Brine had written to discuss “the detail” of paying pharmacies in England for their “care-orientated” role in its funding negotiations this year.

Watch Ms Shah’s reaction to Mr Brine’s comments after his visit to Portmans Pharmacy in the video below:

3 Comments
Question: 
What should Steve Brine talk to Jeremy Hunt about?

Hemant Patel, Community pharmacist

Look at the video again. Some people are good at saying nothing. Better editing needed. Our time is precious.

 

Yet again pharmacy missed the point. What is in the 17th Dec 2015 DH Letter that requires legislation? Whatever it is is coming. Brace yourself. Think about STP and the ICS agendas. Is it possible to integrate local commissioning with national contractual framework? Which is a bigger story? Hep C or friendly warning about legislation? 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

With the best will, how long does it take the DoH to change primary legislation. I am prepared to bet at least 5 years

Brian AUSTEN, Administration & Support

I will be very surprised if anything comes of his meeting with Mr Hunt. Shame because Hep C testing is definitely needed and it looks like Pharmacies can be an excellent provider.

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