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To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what assessment has been made by his Department or NHS England of the effect of minor ailments services provided by community pharmacies on demand for the services of GP practices and other parts of the NHS; and what assessment he has made of the effect of planned reductions in funding for pharmacies on those services.
NHS England has taken account of the potential impact of a pharmacy minor ailments service on general practitioner services and other parts of the National Health Service. The findings of the Minor Ailment study (‘MINA’ study), conducted by the University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with NHS Grampian and the University of East Anglia, on behalf of Pharmacy Research UK in 2014, were considered. In addition, evaluations of local minor ailments schemes have continued to inform decision-making about local commissioning of such schemes.
Community pharmacy is a vital part of the NHS and can play an even greater role. In the Spending Review the Government re-affirmed the need for the NHS to deliver £22 billion in efficiency savings by 2020/21 as set out in the NHS’s own plan, the Five Year Forward View. Community pharmacy is a core part of NHS primary care and has an important contribution to make as the NHS rises to these challenges. The Government believes efficiencies can be made without compromising the quality of services or public access to them. Our aim is to ensure that those community pharmacies upon which people depend continue to thrive and so we are consulting on the introduction of a Pharmacy Access Scheme, which will provide more NHS funds to certain pharmacies compared to others, considering factors such as location and the health needs of the local population.
The Government’s vision is for a more efficient, modern system that will free up pharmacists to spend more time delivering clinical and public health services to the benefit of patients and the public.
We are consulting the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, other pharmacy bodies and patient and public representatives on our proposals for community pharmacy in 2016/17 and beyond. An impact assessment will be completed to inform final decisions and published in due course.
Local commissioning and funding of services from community pharmacies, such as minor ailment services, will be unaffected by these proposals.