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a houses of parliament imageJune 15 2018

A nationally commissioned Minor Ailments Service (MAS) as part of the pharmacy contract in England is still some way off, the pharmacy minister has indicated.

Responding to questions asked by Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, Health Minister Steve Brine said that MAS schemes are currently commissioned locally by the NHS according to need. 

“However, a national minor illness scheme is in development, building on a pilot digital minor illness referral service (DMIRS) that commenced last year in the North East. This scheme provides direct referrals from NHS 111 to community pharmacy. 

“Three further DMIRS pilots, supported by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, are due to be launched by early autumn 2018, in Devon, London (in a phased approach), and East Midlands. The areas will be adopting the same model used in the North East with some minor adaptations dependent on the local NHS 111 case mix. An evaluation will inform any next steps for the project.”

Mr Brine also indicated that there will be no formal response to the Murray Review. This was commissioned by the Chief Pharmaceutical Office in 2016, who asked Richard Murray, Director of Policy at the King’s Fund, to look into community pharmacy clinical services. 

Earlier this month, Mr Afolami asked what steps the Government is taking to implement the recommendations of the independent review. Responding in a written answer, Mr Brine said the NHS Five Year Forward View had “taken into account” the findings of the Murray Review. 

“NHS England has seen progress in a number of areas to implement the recommendations. For example, the Pharmacy Integration Fund has supported a pilot in the North East of referral from NHS 111 to community pharmacies for minor illness and the national ‘stay well campaign’ continues to highlight the role of community pharmacy in this area,” he said. 

“We are aware of locally commissioned schemes addressing hypertension. The Pharmacy Integration Fund is also supporting the roll out of clinical pharmacists in general practice and in care homes with additional training to award independent prescriber status.”

Mr Brine also noted that the Scottish Government will shortly be conducting a review of community pharmacy supplementary and independent prescribing clinics. “The Department will consider carefully the findings of this review,” he said.

Links:
Hansard: ‘Pharmacy: Health Services: Written question – 149705’          
Hansard: ‘Pharmacy: Health Services: Written question – 149706’          
Hansard: ‘Pharmacy: Scotland: Written question – 149707’        

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