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NHS 111 operators got 'detailed' training ahead of referral service

NHS 111 call handlers received “detailed” training ahead of the launch of the pharmacy referral service, NHS England has told C+D in response to pharmacist concerns.

The “detailed training plans” put in place before the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) launched on October 29 included “a combination of approaches” to ensure call handlers could access the training across their 24-hour shift patterns, NHS England told C+D earlier this month (November 8).

NHS 111 providers were asked to facilitate a 30-minute briefing for all their staff, during which the call advisors were shown an animation of the CPCS and a video explaining the role of a community pharmacist, the commissioning body added.

They also received instructions on how to select the right “directory of services template”, which includes pharmacy service information to help operators refer patients to the right healthcare provider, NHS England added.

Pharmacist concerns

A week into the CPCS, C+D readers shared their concerns around the preparedness of NHS 111 call handlers for the national advanced service, claiming that patients were “misinformed” that their prescription would be passed to the pharmacy, ready for them to collect their medicines on the spot.

While NHS England does not mandate the training that NHS 111 call handlers receive, each NHS 111 provider organisation was offered an NHS CPCS workshop in September and October, delivered by the national directory of services team and the national pharmacy integration team, and attended by a local community pharmacy representative, the commissioning body told C+D.

During these sessions, supervisors and frontline staff briefed NHS 111 call advisors, while support staff attended to cascade any briefings, NHS England said.

Further training sessions are planned to support call advisors in the run-up to Christmas and new year, the commissioning body added.

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