A new British scheme aims to better utilise community pharmacists in minor ailments won’t attract any funding for pharmacists.
The scheme, which is to launch in pilot areas around England in December, will be aimed at consumers who call 111, the non-emergency medical helpline.
Those who require urgent repeat medication or are suffering from minor ailments will be directed to a community pharmacist rather than an out-of-hours GP practice.
The National Pharmacy Association reacted to the announcement by stating that it is “clearly timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts planned by the Department of Health”.
“In reality it highlights the flat contradiction at the heart of the Department’s position – asking pharmacies to develop new roles and services whilst stripping away the investment necessary to make it happen,” said Ian Strachan, NPA chairman.
“Pharmacies cannot deliver these services if they have to cut back staff. They cannot deliver a service if they have been forced to close.
“The schemes look to fall far short of a properly funded nationwide scheme that would have transformational benefits for patients and the NHS. It’s a smoke screen. I don’t sense any conviction in it.
“The Government has now acknowledged the unique potential of community pharmacies in urgent care. Health Ministers should follow that logic and back pharmacies more fully to take pressure off stretched GPs and hospitals.”
Now, the Department of Health has told UK pharmacy magazine Chemist + Druggist that there will be no extra funding for the minor ailments service.
The UK’s pharmacy minister, David Mowat, had earlier suggested that the minor ailments scheme would be implemented nationwide and that pharmacists would be paid “over and above any money that comes out of the settlement for minor ailments”.