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 June 30 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.