While 20% of pharmacies in England are expected to join the pilot, as of last week “approximately 10% of all community pharmacies” were registered to provide the service, the commissioner confirmed to C+D last Friday (April 21).
Each area needs a “critical number of pharmacies” signed up to the NHS 111 urgent supply referral service before it can go live, NHS England added.
“A phased introduction” of the scheme began in December 2016 and was expected to run to March 2017, with the pilot ending in March 2018.
Contractor "annoyed" by delays
As of April 3, just 17 of the 350 pharmacies in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw – which was chosen to participate in the final phase of the pilot scheme – had signed up to provide the service, Barnsley local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) secretary Thomas Bisset told C+D earlier this month.
“I was originally annoyed that Yorkshire was supposed to go live in March and we didn’t have a meeting [with the local NHS England team] until nine days into the month,” Mr Bisset said.
Despite an appetite from pharmacists to sign up to the pilot scheme, “pharmacists aren’t applying because they are waiting for an NHS email address – [a requirement of providing the service] – not realising that they need to ask to do [the service] to get an email address”, Mr Bisset said.
"Timescales will vary"
A spokesperson for NHS England said the “phased implementation” of the pilot means “timescales will vary between areas”.
“A number of areas are running [the scheme] as part of the pilot, including the whole of the London region, [the] north east and Cumbria, along with some clinical commissioning group areas in the south, [and the] Midlands and east region,” they added.
The remaining areas across the country will go live by June, NHS England said.