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Minister calls for greater pharmacy integration into the NHS

 The Pharmaceutical Journal Vol 266 No 7132 p100-102
January 27, 2001


Minister calls for greater pharmacy integration into the NHS
£190,000 for medicines management in London
POD checks top LPCs? agenda
Tories would make EHC POM
Society director to advise NHS
New EHC allegations by Daily Mail
Society statement to the Daily Mail
EHC booklets
New leaflet on medicines for elderly
Pharmacist chairman for Paisley LHCC
Pharmacists best equipped to meet health care challenges
Few HA complaints concern pharmacy
New start date for RPM case
APPG input into Health and Social care Bill
NPA board election
Council member misquoted


Lord Hunt (Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health) has called for greater integration of pharmacy with the National Health Service.

Speaking at a dinner hosted by Barking and Havering local pharmaceutical committee and Redbridge and Waltham Forest LPC on January 18, Lord Hunt said: ?This is about unlocking the potential of community pharmacy and helping the enthusiasts channel their enthusiasm. It is also about unlocking potential within the wider National Health Service, being imaginative and breaking down barriers. Just as you in the profession are seeing new ways to develop your skills, so the wider NHS has got to recognise the contribution that you have to offer.?

Addressing comments to NHS representatives at the dinner, the Minister said that the issue was not to develop pharmacy services as an end in themselves. The issue was to identify what the NHS was trying to achieve and then to identify the pharmacy role within that. This was a message that was to be given to health authorities over the coming months as the pharmacy plan was implemented.

Lord Hunt said that it was clear that there was a wealth of talent, experience and responsibility in the profession. It was his role, as the Minister responsible for pharmacy, to make sure that this was used to the full.

The great potential for pharmacy was ideally demonstrated by the plan for medicines management, the Minister said. Commenting on a multidisciplinary advisory group that was to be created to oversee the national development of medicines management, he added that the Government had learnt from the development of the NHS plan that projects were more successful when people from the field were brought in to advise on progress, than when they were based on theoretical writings from Whitehall.

Turning to the role of LPCs, Lord Hunt said that he wanted strong, committed LPCs with strong relationships with health authorities. If the programme for the NHS was to become reality, pharmacy had to be at the top table at health authority level. Pharmacists had to be involved with health improvement programmes and their input was required into local health strategies. That was a key message that would be transmitted to the NHS.

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£190,000 for medicines management in London

The London regional office of the National Health Service Executive has allocated £190,000 over two years from its development fund for the management and evaluation of medicines management projects.

Announcing the money at a dinner hosted by Barking and Havering local pharmaceutical committee and Redbridge and Waltham Forest LPC on January 18, Ms Sue Young (chairman, Barking and Havering health authority) said that effective medicines management was a key initiative which led to significant improvements in health when patients were encouraged to take their medicines properly and continually. An important by-product was cost savings that released money for further services.

Ms Young said that the NHS plan challenged all those involved with health care to improve patient care, partnership, prevention and performance. The plan was about developing a patient centred service that was tailored to meet individual needs. Locally, partnership had entailed working hard with local community pharmacists to raise their profile and to recognise how important they were to providing accessible health care and information in the community.

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POD checks top LPCs? agenda

Checks by pharmacists on entitlement to prescription charge exemption are to be debated at the local pharmaceutical committees? conference on March 12. Four motions on the subject have been submitted.

Liverpool LPC has taken the most hard-line stance and is calling for £10m paid to contractors for checks to be sent back to the Department of Health with the message ?do it yourself?.

Two motions from St Helens and Knowsley LPC call for checks to be halted until a new agreement can be negotiated and for the Department to be told that the profession is no longer willing to take responsibility for the checks.

The PSNC has recommended that the three motions be rejected; the first because it would reduce remuneration, the second because the arrangements were negotiated before they were introduced, and the third because checks are now part of the contractors? terms of service.

The fourth motion on the subject, from Manchester LPC, urges the PSNC to negotiate a realistic fee for POD checks.

Other motions for debate at the conference include a renewed call for a merger between the PSNC and the National Pharmaceutical Association.

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Tories would make EHC POM

The shadow health secretary (Dr Liam Fox) has said that a future Conservative government would return emergency hormonal contraception to prescription control.

Dr Fox told the Nursing Standard for January 24: ?The morning-after pill should only be given within an environment where detailed professional advice about further contraception and sexually transmitted diseases is readily available. My worry is not about the ability of pharmacists but about whether the high street chemist is the appropriate place for it to be given.? He said that the logical professionals to give out the treatment would be practice nurses.

A spokeswoman for the Community Practitioners? and Health Visitors? Association told the magazine that emergency contraception should continue to be available over the counter.

?It is perfectly safe and gives women control over their own fertility. Having it available only on prescription would just put women through a lot of unnecessary hoops,? she said.

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Society director to advise NHS

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society?s director of public affairs (Ms Beverley Parkin) has joined a Government task force.

Ms Parkin was asked to join a communications task force established by the National Health Service modernisation board.

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New EHC allegations by Daily Mail

In new allegations that pharmacists are making unlawful or inappropriate supplies of emergency contraception, the Daily Mail has named community pharmacies in London which it says sold Levonelle to a 15-year-old girl who asked for emergency contraception. It has also named a pharmacy which allegedly sold the prescription version, Levonelle-2, over the counter to the girl.

The allegations, in the newspaper?s January 20 issue, come two weeks after the newspaper alleged that named pharmacies had supplied EHC to a girl in breach of guidelines that restricted supply to young women aged 16 years and over. In fact, the first supplies had been made under a patient group direction that had no lower age limit (PJ, January 13, p40).

In its second investigation the Daily Mail seems to have been careful to ensure that over-the-counter sale was sought.

The newspaper named two pharmacies which it says sold Levonelle without asking the purchaser?s age. The consultation at one unnamed pharmacy is reported to have comprised the simple question: ?You know it costs £20?? Two further pharmacies are reported to have told the girl that she was too young to buy the product and referred her to a family planning clinic.

The newspaper says that the Department of Health has ordered the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to launch an inquiry into the matter.

The Department is reported to have said of the pharmacist where Levonelle-2 was supplied: ?Levonelle-2 is not licensed for over-the-counter sales. This pharmacist committed an offence under the Medicines Act 1968. It is exactly the same dose as the OTC drug, but it is marketed differently.?

The newspaper also reproduced a short extract from a statement issued by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

The newspaper?s second investigation took place two weeks before the official launch of Levonelle as an OTC medicine, which is due to take place on January 30, and a few days before pharmacists received official training material for the supply of EHC. These materials were circulated with The Pharmaceutical Journal on January 20. Professional standards and practice guidance were published late last year (PJ, December 16, 2000, p890).

When the classification of Levonelle as a pharmacy medicine was announced, the Department of Health warned pharmacists not to sell the prescription form, Levonelle-2, because it would not meet the labelling regulations for pharmacy sale and would not include the appropriate patient information leaflet (PJ, December 16, 2000, p872).
Comment, p99

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Society statement to the Daily Mail

After being contacted by the Daily Mail regarding its investigation, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society issued the following statement to the newspaper:

?As the professional and regulatory body for pharmacists, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has issued mandatory standards on the supply of emergency hormonal contraception to be upheld by its members. In addition to the mandatory standards, the Society has produced practice guidance with regard to the sale of emergency hormonal contraception to support pharmacists providing this service.

?The Society has enforcement responsibilities under the Medicines Act 1968. When allegations of an offence are made, the Society makes all the necessary enquiries to establish what happened and whether any offence has been committed. The Society will need to investigate allegations of such an offence in the appropriate manner. To ensure that these responsibilities are exercised it would be inappropriate for the Society to comment further. We anticipate receiving the evidence concerned from the Daily Mail.?

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EHC booklets

An emergency hormonal contraception information booklet was sent by the centres for pharmacy postgraduate education to all pharmacists with The Journal last week. Those addressed to community pharmacists in England should have contained a response sheet and freepost envelope so that pharmacists could have their multiple choice assessment marked. Pharmacists in England who did not receive these and wish to have their assessments marked can obtain the response sheet by e-mailing the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education at or by writing to the CPPE at Freepost (MR8920), School of Pharmacy, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9HJ stating their Royal Pharmaceutical Society registration numbers, along with registered name and address. Completed sheets for marking should be sent to CPPE, Edexcel CAPE MCQ Services, Freepost Lon 14279, London WC1H 9BR.

Pharmacists in England who did not receive the information booklet with The Journal can also contact the CPPE to ask for one.

Pharmacists in Scotland can obtain the response sheet from, and return it to, the Scottish Centre for Postqualification Pharmaceutical Education, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, 27 Taylor Street, Glasgow G4 0NR (tel 0141 552 4400 ext 4274, e-mail

Welsh pharmacists can contact the Welsh Centre for Postgraduate Pharmaceutical Education, Cardiff University, 8 North Road, Cardiff CF10 3DY (tel 02920 874784, e-mail

Pharmacists in Northern Ireland should shortly be receiving mailings direct from the Northern Ireland Centre for Postgraduate Pharmaceutical Education and Training.

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New leaflet on medicines for elderly

A leaflet encouraging elderly patients to tell health professionals about all the medicines they are taking when seeking treatment is to be distributed through community pharmacies nation-wide.

The ?Be clear about your medicines? leaflet accompanies a campaign backed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the National Pharmaceutical Association, the Doctor Patient Partnership and Age Concern. The central themes of the campaign are that patients should be careful about taking both non-prescription and prescription medicines together and that if they have any concerns about managing their medicines they should ask their pharmacists for advice.

The leaflet contains a section in which patients can list both their prescription and non-prescription medicines. They are then encouraged to cut out this section and show it to the pharmacist when buying medicines.

The campaign is to be officially launched by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Lord Hunt) on January 29.

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Pharmacist chairman for Paisley LHCC

Mr Asgher Mohammed, a proprietor community pharmacist from Paisley, Glasgow, has been appointed chairman and clinical lead of Paisley local health care co-operative).

Paisley LHCC has responsibility for a population of about 85,000. It incorporates eight out of 11 social inclusion partnership areas, yet has a social mix that allows it to be seen as a microcosm of Scotland. There are 13 general medical practices (56 GPs), 18 dental practices, 19 community pharmacies and nine optical practices.

Mr Asgher, who took up the post on January 1, is responsible for leading the development and delivery of health services in the area and for the LHCC?s contribution to strategic planning and direction for the local primary care trust and implementation of its strategy. He also has to ensure that procedures are in place to support clinical governance and the development and training of staff working in services provided by the LHCC.

-From our Scottish correspondent.

Asgher Mohammed: wants to promote successful team working and a more patient centred approach

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Pharmacists best equipped to meet health care challenges

Pharmacists are probably better equipped than any other health professional to meet the challenges currently faced by systems of health care, according to Mr Martin Hill (chief executive, Lanarkshire Primary Care NHS trust and chairman of the Scottish Executive?s local health care co-operative best practice reference group).

Speaking at an LHCC pharmacists conference organised by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland on January 13, Mr Hill said that the objectives of the Scottish National Health Service plan (improving health, rebuilding the NHS, improving the patient?s journey through the NHS, involving people and working together in partnership) set a number of challenges. The challenges were: for the whole health care system to discriminate in favour of need and multi-agency working; for LHCCs to attract investment and champion local health improvement; and for pharmacists to improve clinical effectiveness, influence strategy and manage drug costs.

Sharing power with patients and adopting a more patient orientated approach were central to all three and it was these with which pharmacists were best able to assist.

- From our Scottish correspondent.

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Few HA complaints concern pharmacy

Just 12 out of 1,396 requests to health authorities for independent review of how primary care contractors dealt with complaints by patients or their relatives concerned pharmaceutical services in 1999-2000.

Of the 12 requests, four were referred to independent review panels, of which two were found to be justified.

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New start date for RPM case

The Office of Fair Trading is to restart its attempt to overturn resale price maintenance on medicines on April 24. The new hearing will be before Mr Justice Buckley and a panel of two lay assessors who are yet to be appointed.

The original hearing was stopped seven weeks after it began, because a lay assessor compromised her independence.

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APPG input into Health and Social care Bill

Six out of 20 members of Parliament who are to give detailed consideration to the Health and Social Care Bill during its committee stage are members of the All-Party Pharmacy Group. They are

  • Dr Peter Brand (Lib Dem, Isle of Wight)
  • Mr Paul Burstow (Lib Dem, Sutton and Cheam)
  • Mr Philip Hammond (Con, Runnymede and Weybridge)
  • Ms Kali Mountford (Lab, Colne Valley)
  • Dr Doug Naysmith (Lab/Co-op, Bristol North West)
  • Mr Gwyn Prosser (Lab, Dover)

Other members of the committee are

  • Mr Adrian Bailey (Lab, West Bromwich West)
  • Mr Ben Bradshaw (Lab, Exeter)
  • Mr Simon Burns (Con, Chelmsford West)
  • Mr Hilton Dawson (Lab, Lancaster and Wyre)
  • Mr John Denham (Minister of State)
  • Ms Lorna Fitzsimons (Lab, Rochdale)
  • Mr Michael Jabez Foster (Lab, Hastings and Rye)
  • Dr Liam Fox (Con, Woodspring)
  • Mr John Hutton (Minister of State)
  • Mr David Jamieson (Lab, Plymouth Devonport)
  • Mr Ian Stewart (Lab, Eccles)
  • Mr Desmond Swayne (Con, New Forest West)
  • Sir George Young (Con, North West Hampshire)

The chairman of the committee is Mr John Maxton (Lab, Glasgow Cathcart).

Philip Hammond is a signatory to an early-day motion which was to be debated on January 24 and which sought to overturn the Prescription Only Medicines (Human Use) Amendment (No 3) Order 2000, which made levonorgestrel a pharmacy medicine.

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NPA board election

Four long-standing members of the National Pharmaceutical Association?s board of management are to stand down at the end of March. They are Mr Ben Zatland, who is currently chairman of the NPA, Mr Gaz Clapinski, Mr Jeremy Clitherow and Mr Peter Jenkins.

All other members of the current NPA board are seeking re-election.

Members of the NPA board are elected in a regional basis, with one member for each region, apart from Wales, which elects two. Two Scottish members of the NPA board are directly elected by the Scottish Pharmaceutical Federation.

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Council member misquoted

Dr Gillian Hawksworth, a Royal Pharmaceutical Society Council member who contributed to a Guardian report on pharmacy last week (PJ, January 20, p70) says that she was misquoted by the newspaper.

She told The Journal on January 19 that she had said that the community pharmacy network could be lost if resale price maintenance on medicines were to be stopped and not that community pharmacy could be lost.

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Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 20004032

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