A national pharmacy-led minor ailments scheme is in development, the pharmacy minister has announced.

Answering a question in Parliament on Monday (11 June), Winchester MP Steve Brine told shadow health and social care minister Julie Cooper that a national roll-out of the pharmacy minor ailments scheme is in development.

However, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told The Pharmacist that ‘ministers have not taken any decisions about the next steps for this scheme’.

It said: ‘These will be informed by an evaluation of the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) pilot. In the meantime, local areas continue to be able to commission a wide range of services to meet the unique needs of their local populations.’

Mr Brine reconfirmed to MP for Hitchin and Harpenden Bim Afolami yesterday (12 June) that the national scheme is coming, building on the DMIRS pilot commenced last year in the North East.


On its way?


Mr Brine wrote on 11 June: ‘A national minor illness scheme is in development.

‘A pilot DMIRS, direct from NHS 111 to community pharmacy, commenced in the North East last year.

‘Three further DMIRS pilots, supported by the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF), 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.’

The Pharmacist has asked NHS England to provide further information on the pilots.


‘By April 2018’


In October 2016, former health minister David Mowat said that a minor ailments scheme would be commissioned across the country by April 2018 so that pharmacists would ‘be paid — over and above any money that comes out of this settlement — for minor ailments work on things such as earache’.

He added: ‘Those are exactly the sort of sensible steps that need to be taken to integrate pharmacy more closely into GP practice, and that is what we are doing.’

Earlier this month, The Pharmacist reported that a south Derbyshire pharmacy-led minor ailments service had been scrapped by local commissioners due to NHS England’s guidance on not regularly prescribing some common over-the-counter treatments