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13,000 patients referred to pharmacies via GP CPCS since October 2020

83% of public “comfortable being referred” from GP to pharmacy
83% of public “comfortable being referred” from GP to pharmacy

Around 13,000 patients were referred from GP practices to community pharmacies over a seven-month period, NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) data has shown.

Between October 2020 and May 2021, 13,000 patients were referred for a minor illness consultation to a community pharmacy from 280 GP practices across England, NHSE&I head of pharmacy integration Ann Joshua said during a GP Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) webinar last month (May 27).

Similar “case mix” of minor illnesses

Presenting a slide of the most common conditions that NHS 111 and GP practices refer to a community pharmacy, Ms Joshua said it is “more or less the same case mix”.

“Sore throat and/or hoarse voice” is the most common condition recorded by NHS 111 for CPCS referrals, while “skin rashes” top the GP practices’ list.

Ed Waller, NHSE&I director for primary care strategy – who also spoke during the webinar – said that “83% of the general public would be comfortable being referred from a practice to a community pharmacy appointment”.

20% of practices in England “getting ready”

More than 10,800 pharmacies currently offer the CPCS service – which was launched in October 2019. However, some local pharmaceutical committee chiefs told C+D last month that they are struggling to get GP practices engaged with the implementation of the GP CPCS pathway.

Ms Joshua said during the webinar – which was organised by the Royal College of General Practitioners – that NHSE&I already has “20% of all practices in England getting ready to prepare for this referral pathway and we’re really keen to work with practices in their areas to make that happen”.

NHSE&I regional teams are tasked with the implementation of the GP CPCS pathway – which was formally enabled on November 1 last year – Ms Joshua specified.

“They’ve been working really hard, working with integrated care systems and clinical commissioning groups to work on some of the very practical ways in which this could be implemented,” she added.

Referrals from online consultations and myth busting

NHSE&I pharmacy integration lead Hammaad Patel told RCGP webinar attendees that GP practices cannot currently refer patients to a pharmacy directly from their online consultation platforms.

However, a programme to allow this is currently under development and a “first-of-type pilot” will begin in selected London pharmacies this summer, Mr Patel explained.

He also presented data showing that sending a CPCS referral to a pharmacy does not take too much time.

“Evaluation of our pilots found that 95% of practices said the referral process was quick and easy, fitting into everyday processes and took just a few minutes. Time invested on the front end can save a 10-minute appointment further down the line,” Mr Patel said.

Community pharmacy contractors have until July 5 to claim the £300 engagement and set up payment for the GP CPCS pathway, which they can only claim if they can demonstrate they have taken a series of actions specified in Annex F of the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service document by June 30.

Has your pharmacy had a GP CPCS referral yet?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Could it be that, because some young pharmacists in particular seem scared of their own shadow, that GPs don't want to engage with this service for fear of the consult bouncing back to them the next day, on some trivial point, from a pharmacist with no confidence in their own abilities?

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

What a load of tosh...they can refer, they have to get the software enabled or use NHS net.. and the article says 280 practices AND NHS 111... What is the split...I'd suggest the mass are NHS 111.. and even if not...1300/280 practices is 52 each over 8 months.. hardly earth shattering! GPs are whingeing about massive overload but won't do anything that raises the profile or, worse, pushes money towards Pharmacists outside their employment/ control...our PCN refuses to communicate about GPCPCS..
And anything else to do with Community Pharmacy.

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