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GP referrals under CPCS to go live November 1, NHSE confirms

Pharmacists complete consultations following a GP referral in 90% of cases, Ms Joshua said
Pharmacists complete consultations following a GP referral in 90% of cases, Ms Joshua said

Pharmacies will start receiving referrals from GP practices for patients with minor ailments under CPCS from November 1, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) has said.

While some “details about implementation” are still being discussed, the rollout date for GP referrals through the community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS) has been confirmed as November 1, NHSE&I head of pharmacy integration Anne Joshua wrote in response to a question posed by C+D at the virtual Clinical Pharmacy Congress earlier this week (September 23).

Pharmacies interested in taking part in the service are being encouraged to contact their local NHS pharmacy contract team, as NHSE&I is keen to help areas “prepare as soon as they wish”, Ms Joshua said in response to a query from another attendee.

Results from pilot sites

From June to July 2019, GP referrals to pharmacies were piloted across five areas: Cheshire and Merseyside sustainability and transformation partnership (STP); Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care system (ICS); North East and North Cumbria ICS; Greater Manchester ICS; and Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire STP – Ms Joshua said at a session about GP referral to the CPCS.

In September 2019, more sites were added as part of the second pilot phase, with the third phase involving “spreading those pilots and the experience from those pilots to other areas”, Ms Joshua added.

At present, 91 GP practices are live with the service, making referrals to 153 community pharmacies. These pilot sites are “clearly demonstrating [that] pharmacists are able to complete the consultations in 90% of cases”, she said. This compares to 88% for NHS 111 referrals, Ms Joshua added.

Unlike in the case of the NHS 111 pathway, pharmacies will not receive referrals for the emergency supply of medicines under the general practice pathway.

Patient satisfaction and opportunities

The pilots have shown that “patients are satisfied with the service and they do really value that confidential conversation with the pharmacist”, Ms Joshua said.

"Service users have cited the convenience, that it’s time saving and they are able to fit appointments around their working hours," she added.

Ms Joshua said that some CCGs have commissioned further services “to enable supply of some prescription medicines under patient group directions, on the back of that CPCS consultation”.

Speaking at the virtual Local Pharmaceutical Committee conference, which was organised by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and took place last week (September 16), PSNC CEO Simon Dukes revealed that GP referrals to pharmacies under the CPCS would go live in the autumn, but did not confirm the exact date of the launch.

In March this year, it was announced that plans to extend pilots for CPCS referrals from GP practices to community pharmacy, which had previously been expected to be rolled out nationally “as early as April”, were being put on hold due to COVID-19.

In August, C+D revealed that community pharmacies in England that had signed up to provide the CPCS were paid just under £48 a month, on average, for offering the service in its first six months.

11 Comments
Question: 
Are you eager to start receiving referrals from GP practices under the CPCS?

H.N. BURDESS, Community pharmacist

How about reducing the capitation fees of general practitioners? They are doing a lot less work these days.The money saved could fund some new initiative of the NHS.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Lets hope it works better than referrals from 111. Just had one for a patient with a clearly infected sting, big blisters , a spreading rash in a line, feeling unwell, hot to touch and they refer a potential sepsis case to a pharmacy. IDIOTS!!

Also, please will someone tell GPs what you CAN'T buy OTC (I'm thinking codeine here) and the regulations for OTC sale of chloramphenicol before this goes livfe, else we will be inundated by requests we can't deal with.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Typical NHSE. No service specifications, no funding information and yet they want expressions of interest from the Pharmacies. This shows how serious they are.

Alison Scowcroft, Locum pharmacist

Will be interesting to see how General Practice is engaged in this - without the receptionists actually making referrals there will be no service. How will NHSE ensure practices do it?

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

There may not be many pharmacies left by November 1st

JOHN MUNDAY, Locum pharmacist

Apart from chloramphenicol eye drops, difflam spray and worming tablets (there is no national minor ailments scheme) what can we give? They will want the works won't they. Really not thought through. A total time waster when we already have far too much to do with flu as it is.

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

'Pharmacies interested in taking part'....so we have a choice do we? In that case no thank you. I'm already overworked, under paid and understaffed to be doing more free services. 

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

You've got it all wrong - we need to be ready to take the workload off the doctor!

Angry Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

And it's because of numpties like you with your 'ready to serve my master and roll over on command' attitude that pharmacists are getting shafted so badly nowadays 

TC PA, Community pharmacist

I think you missed the sarcasm there

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

No emojis available!

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