The new pharmacy contract is something of a mixed bag - contractors beware, opines The Pharmacist's GP blogger Dr Livingstone

Now you see it, now you don’t. Or, if you’d rather, the new five-year pharmacy contract doles out £14 per minor ailment consultation under the community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS) on the one hand, while it nicks your medicines use review (MUR) dosh out of your back pocket with the other.

Believe me, we GPs are very familiar with Governmental recycling trick of developing new services through which we have to re-earn what we thought was already ours. I still feel your pain, though.

I worry for you, too. True, the new CPCS will initially be restricted to referrals via 111 calls. But this new contract promises future expansion of referrals to pharmacists via 111 online, urgent treatment centres, GPs and even A&E.

And there’s a lot of minor illness out there, very little public common sense about how to manage it and the potential to generate a huge workload from the worried well once the service gets publicity – particularly as many are giving up on their GP as first port of call these days.

So, you could get very busy. Are you ready for this? Do you feel trained for the job? Is your medico-legal cover adequate? And most of all, do you have the hours, will and energy to cope? Last time I looked, my local pharmacist was not reclining on a chaise longue flicking idly through a copy of the BNF. She was a blur of stress and knackered overwork.

Join the club. At least when my switchboard operator signposts those minor ailments in your general direction, you can anticipate claiming that consultation fee and, who knows, flog some OTC treatment into the bargain.

Good luck to you. I say it’s NHS money well spent, particularly as one less appointment for me means the rare chance of a caffeine fix. Check that back pocket, though.