HC Deb 12 May 2004 vol 421 cc461-2W
Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress towards the National Framework milestone for primary care group and primary care trust schemes for older people to receive more help from pharmacists in using their medicines. [170617]

Ms Rosie Winterton

While we do not collect data centrally on the number of primary care trusts (PCTs) that have schemes in place so that older people can get more help from pharmacists in using their medicines, there is good evidence to indicate that the number of pharmacists providing support to patients, general practitioners and PCTs to improve medicine taking has increased significantly since 2001, when the older people's national service framework was published.

PCTs now employ over 1,000 pharmacists, some of whom provide hands on support to GP practices to set up medicines management schemes, which help patients take their medicines more effectively. Through the national medicines management collaborative at least 393 community pharmacies are actively involved in programmes such as prescription intervention schemes, medication reviews, return of unwanted medicines, and minor ailment schemes, thereby encouraging self-care and support to vulnerable groups, particularly older people. This includes enhanced prescription collection and delivery services, medicines management services to care homes and domiciliary visiting. The Department is also funding a trial of structured services based exclusively in community pharmacies for patients with coronary heart disease, led by the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee.

The proposed new community pharmacy contractual framework, which is currently being negotiated, will also be an important driver for change and will help to ensure that pharmacists are more involved in supporting patients in using their medicines. Repeat dispensing, which is expected to be an essential service provided by all pharmacies, will enable patients with stable conditions to obtain a prescription from their GP, which can then be dispensed in several instalments by their pharmacy over an agreed period of time.

The first pharmacist supplementary prescribers have qualified and will be writing their first prescriptions imminently. Supplementary prescribing within a clinical management plan agreed with the doctor will be particularly beneficial for patients with chronic diseases. The work of the medicines partnership taskforce, funded by the Department, has helped professionals and older people to become more involved in medication reviews.

Mr. Waterson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on progress towards the National Service Framework milestone for single integrated community services. [170619]

Dr. Ladyman

Of the 138 areas in England that have been identified to be covered by integrated health and social services community equipment services, 110, or 72 per cent., predicted in January 2004 that they would meet the four integration criteria, which are: to have a pooled budget, a sole manager, a manager's advisory board, and unified stock. The majority of the remaining services are expected to complete their integration during the course of the year.