Minor Ailment Service changes thanks to public

Parents and carers will still be able to access prescription medication for their child’s minor ailments without the need for a GP appointment after local doctors and health bosses listened to their views on proposed changes to the Minor Ailments Scheme.

NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation which buys and plans healthcare services across the town, has been faced with needing to save £6.4m in this financial year.

It was revealed in August that prescriptions for medications to treat minor ailments cost the NHS in Blackpool an estimated £800,000 per year. These items, such as; simple painkillers like paracetamol, cough/cold remedies and cold sore treatments, are all readily available over the counter in many high street outlets and local pharmacies at relatively cheap prices compared to that incurred by the NHS when obtained via a prescription.

The CCG spoke with local people to gather their thoughts about local doctors not routinely prescribing these types of medicines unless clinically necessary, in a move to encourage people to self-care and buy them over the counter instead. The plan was met with approval by a large majority of people.

The CCG also carried out a review of the local Minor Ailments Scheme which provides patients living in Blackpool with advice and access to over the counter medicines through community pharmacies where appropriate. As part of this, the CCG again spoke with local people, including a number of parent and family groups, to gather their views.

The majority of people the CCG spoke to agreed that people should opt to purchase these types of medicines over the counter for themselves. However, concerns were raised that those with low incomes could be adversely affected and if they had children this could make getting treatment for a sick child difficult.

With this feedback in mind, the CCG’s Clinical Leadership Team, which includes a number of local GPs, has agreed that instead of removing it completely, community pharmacies will continue to treat and supply medicines for the following ailments via the Minor Ailments Scheme:

  • Pain and fever relief for children aged under 12 years such as ibuprofen and paracetamol
  • Threadworm
  • Products for bites and stings for children aged under 12 years
  • Head lice – via head lice combs not insecticide based lotions

Dr Amanda Doyle, a Blackpool GP and Chief Clinical Officer at NHS Blackpool CCG, said: “We have to make the most effective use of the limited funding we have and that means we have had to really assess were we can make potential savings. However, that cannot be to the detriment of the patient and the quality of service they receive.

“The feedback from the public was that parents with young children often need advice when treating their sick child. The purpose of the Minor Ailment Scheme is to encourage people to make use of the wealth of expertise held within local pharmacies, instead of waiting for GP appointments, so it made sense to keep the scheme available but reduce the types of medication that can be obtained and concentrate on just providing those that are used most frequently, particularly by parents.

“I’d like to thank everyone who shared their views with us. All of the comments we receive, whether good or bad, are always welcomed and when possible we do all we can to take these views into account when planning services.”

The changes to the Minor Ailments Scheme will be effective from Wednesday 1 March 2016.