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Top GP blames low number of GP CPCS referrals on NHS bureaucracy

The British Medical Association (BMA) GP committee chair has slammed the "bureaucracy" required for practices to send patients to their pharmacist under the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

Richard Vautrey called the low number of GP referrals under the CPCS a “missed opportunity” at the Healthcare Distribution Association’s (HDA) annual conference last week (November 4).

He blamed the low number of referrals on the “laborious process” of filling out the referral form, once a GP receptionist identifies that a patient would be best served by a pharmacist.

The “10 minutes” taken to complete the referral form lead to longer waiting times for other patients looking to be seen by a GP, and bring in “extra work that the practice didn't have to do before” under local minor ailment schemes, Dr Vautrey added.

The CPCS referral system was “imposed” on GP practices, he continued.

“The NHS just loves creating bureaucracy,” Dr Vautrey said, which “inhibits the service that we're able to provide”. 

C+D reported in October that only 800 GP practices had signed up to refer patients to pharmacies under the service, despite the GP pathway of the CPCS being enabled from November 1 last year.

NHS England and NHS Improvement has called for GP practices to sign up to the CPCS service by December 1 in a bid to improve access to GP appointments.


“A more streamlined arrangement”


Dr Vautrey called for “a much more streamlined arrangement” that trusts general practice “to direct people to the right place” and in turn trusts pharmacies to deliver the appropriate services.

The need for a  “walk-in service” was echoed by Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee – who also spoke at the HDA conference.

Mr Buxton said such an option would be  “sensible” for alleviating the workload on GPs and combating health inequalities. This would tackle the issue of pharmacy contractors having to assist patients with informal GP referrals, for which – unlike the CPCS –  contractors cannot claim remuneration. 

Dr Vautrey and Mr Buxton also called for pharmacists to be able to add information to summary care records, echoing the views shared by General Pharmaceutical Council chair Nigel Clarke at Pharmacy Show in October.

How should CPCS be improved?

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