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Cornish walk-in pharmacy service eyes up national rollout

A local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) has taken its walk-in minor ailments consultation service to parliament, with the ambition to see a national rollout.

Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LPC said yesterday (March 23) that its walk-in-consultation service (WICS) has delivered more than 8,000 face-to-face appointments and saved over 6,000 GP appointments in its first year.

The LPC revealed its CEO Nick Kaye and its operations manager Drew Creek had “recently” gone to parliament to present the service to St Austell and Newquay’s MP Nick Double and the pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien,.

Read more: PSNC: Pharmacy First must not be left to ‘piecemeal’ local commissioning

It added that the WICS was also presented to “senior civil servants” from the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and NHS England (NHSE), “with a view to rolling this service out nationally”.

It comes as pharmacy bodies push for a fully funded Pharmacy First minor ailments service in England.

On Wednesday (March 22), the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) warned that the service must not be left to “piecemeal” local commissioning.

In response, a DH spokesperson told C+D that any new national services will be negotiated with PSNC. Meanwhile, integrated care boards (ICBs) can commission local pharmacy services at any time and some areas already offer pharmacy minor ailments services, they said.

 

6,000 GP appointments “averted”

 

NHS Cornwall and Isles of Scilly ICB recommissioned the WICS last April after an initial three-month pilot that began in December 2021.

Participating pharmacies receive £14 per consultation, which take place with a pharmacist in a consulting room without the need for a patient appointment or referral, the LPC said.

Read more: Cornish walk-in pharmacy service aims to hit 10,000 consultations by March

It claimed that over 6,000 GP appointments had been “averted” in the service’s first year, with 80% of people who used the service having their symptoms treated successfully in the pharmacy.

The “wide range” of minor ailments covered by the service include but are not limited to:

  • blisters

  • cold and flu

  • headache

  • sleep difficulties

  • urinary tract infections (UTIs).

 

Mr Kaye commented that the service “joins up” consultations “by placing full details in the patients notes at their GP practice automatically”.

“This allows for fully joined up care, relieves pressure on GPs and helps bring much needed funding into community pharmacies after seven years of static funding, which is forcing pharmacies’ doors to close,” he said.

Marco Motta, interim head of prescribing and medicines optimisation at NHS Cornwall said he was “super proud” of what had been achieved.

“Sometimes we just need to start something and see, rather than wait for something to come along,” he added. “This service shows what integration and innovation means, with the ultimate goal of supporting our community.”

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