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Your spotlight on local services

Outcome of the public consultation on the ‘Care at the Chemist’ Scheme


The minor ailments service, ‘Care at the Chemist’, was initially commissioned by the former Primary Care Organisation for St Helens residents in 2004. The scheme is available to the public in all but two patient facing pharmacies in St Helens and patients can obtain treatment for 27 minor ailments free of charge if they are eligible for free prescriptions.

The scheme costs in the region of £200-250k per annum and as we have to regularly review our services to ensure that we are providing the most effective treatments and value for money for our population, the CCG ran a 12 week public consultation on the future of the service in July which asked if we should:

  • Cease the service
  • Limit the number of pharmacies who offer the minor ailment service, for example only those pharmacies that are open 100 hours will be able to offer the service.
  • Limit the number minor ailments and treatments offered
  • Only offer the service to those aged 17 years and under.

Community groups and individuals were all invited to have their say on the above options and the by the time the consultation closed on 21st September, 181 responses to the consultation survey had been received including comments collected from face to face engagement sessions in pharmacies, libraries and children’s centres across the borough.  The majority of these were not in favour of ceasing the service.

A report on the consultation and the responses gathered was presented and discussed at the CCG’s Urgent Issues Committee held on 25th September where it was agreed that the Care at the Chemist service will continue in its current form.  Self-care will continue to be promoted across the borough in tandem with raising awareness of the costs of providing the Care at the Chemist service to ensure that members of the public are supported with self-care advice including how best to access treatments for minor ailments. The CCG will continue to work with NHS England, primary care and patients to ensure that we continue to commission effective community pharmacy services.  

We thank all individuals and groups who took the time to respond to the consultation and be assured that we have taken your comments on board.


Professor Sarah O’Brien

Strategic Director People's Services / CCG Clinical Accountable Officer


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