Pharmacy Voice Statement: Response to Minister’s announcement on urgent care role

Pharmacy Voice understands that an announcement will be made this evening by pharmacy minister David Mowat MP regarding community pharmacy’s role in urgent care.

Mr Mowat will address the Pharmacy Business Awards tonight and is expected to say that an urgent repeat medicines pilot will start in December 2016, along with work by NHS 111 to develop a referrals process for minor ailments.

Pharmacy Voice and the other pharmacy organisations have issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

Responding to today’s announcement from Community Health and Care Minister David Mowat, community pharmacy leaders (PSNC, Pharmacy Voice, the National Pharmacy Association, the Company Chemists’ Association and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies) said today:

“Although we note today’s recognition of the role that community pharmacy can play in the provision of urgent care and the pilot on the emergency supply of medicines, we are disappointed that this scheme has only been commissioned as a pilot. We are also confused by the references to minor ailments, because we do not believe that what has been set out is in any way the sort of minor ailments service that is needed to really take pressure off urgent care services. Instead the NHS will simply seek to direct people to pharmacies in order to receive advice and to purchase medicines as they would already do.

More importantly, this announcement is being made in the midst of planned funding cuts for community pharmacy. These cuts could have a much more significant impact on patients, leading to a scaling back of pharmacy services and even possible unplanned pharmacy closures. Pharmacies cannot deliver new services or pilots if they have to cut back staff or worse. This announcement has clearly been timed to draw attention away from the looming cuts, but it once again highlights the 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.

Using community pharmacies to help patients get quick, effective access to care for minor ailments, reducing the demands on general practice, offers less costly, quicker, more effective care, and the refusal of the NHS to commission a national minor ailments advice service from community pharmacies reflects badly on the Government’s concern for our communities and for the NHS.”