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CPCS service at risk in 'significant number' of pharmacies without designated IT systems

A number of contractors have been urged to take action and select an IT system that will allow them to receive referrals to the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

As of April 29, there were still 187 contractors who had yet to enter into an agreement with a CPCS IT system provider, according to data collated from system suppliers and quoted in a bulletin sent by the Community Pharmacy Lancashire local pharmaceutical committee (LPC).

Without an IT supplier confirmed, there may be a risk to CPCS service provision or service continuity, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) suggested in guidance published on its website.

On April 1, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) switched CPCS to a “provider pays” model, under which contractors offering the service became responsible for choosing their own IT system for the service.


Read more: Number of CPCS referrals to community pharmacies hits 7,000 per week


NHSE&I told C+D that it is working “closely” with IT suppliers, regional commissioning teams, and PSNC “to remind outstanding contractors to take action as soon as possible”.

This will enable them “to continue to receive CPCS referrals into their chosen system”, an NHSE&I spokesperson commented.

Meanwhile, PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton told C+D that it is “important” that contractors who are yet to enter into an IT system contract, “do so as quickly as possible to ensure they can continue to receive referrals”.


9,122 pharmacies selected PharmOutcomes


Currently, contractors can choose from just four providers that have been assured by NHS Digital to support the CPCS service: PharmOutcomes; Sonar; Cegedim and Positive Solutions.

A spokesperson for PharmOutcomes told C+D that 9,122 pharmacies have currently selected its service to provide the CPCS.

Meanwhile, Cegedim confirmed it has over 450 pharmacies registered, while Positive Solutions, which is “still progressing through the final stages of the test and assurance process”, told C+D it has “around 30 registered users”.

C+D also approached Sonar for comment.


Read more: CPCS: Pilot tool to boost GP referrals to pharmacies, AIMp urges


New IT services “must run seamlessly”


A spokesperson for Cegedim told C+D that while it is vital “more work is done by the NHS to centralise GP referrals in a way that makes this service more available to all CPCS solution providers”, challenges have arisen from “the limitation of the tools available to process claims”.

These challenges have forced pharmacies to log in and out of different systems to support consultations, they said.

In order “to make CPCS work”, new IT services “must run seamlessly in the pharmacy, and to be effective they must provide the business with all the information required to respond in a timely manner and manage the service through to a successful outcome”.

Earlier this year, Gateshead and South Tyneside LPC told C+D that some 1,800 pharmacies in the north-east and Yorkshire region would each receive a one-off £200 payment to partially offset the cost and ensure the continuity of the service.

Just 7,000 CPCS referrals make their way into community pharmacies every week, England's new chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb told delegates at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in January, some LPC chiefs told C+D that the number of GP CPCS referrals in their areas was slowly increasing but that the COVID-19 booster jab programme and poor IT systems were hampering progress.

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