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Over 600 pharmacies eligible to deliver 'low acuity condition' service

“Symptom groups” selected for the service include rashes, constipation, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers
“Symptom groups” selected for the service include rashes, constipation, diarrhoea and mouth ulcers

More than 600 pharmacies in north-east England are eligible to sign up to a pilot to deliver advice or treatment for “low acuity conditions”.

The Community Pharmacy Referral Service (CPRS) – which launched last week (December 4) across Durham, Darlington, Tees, Northumberland, and Tyne and Wear – involves NHS 111 using PharmOutcomes or NHSmail to refer patients with “a range of low acuity conditions” to a community pharmacy for a consultation, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said.

“Symptom groups” selected for the service include rashes, constipation, diarrhoea, vaginal discharge, sore eye, mouth ulcers, failed contraception, vomiting, scabies and ear wax, PSNC said.

“If the patient requires treatment, this can be sold over the counter or supplied via a locally commissioned minor ailments scheme (if available),” the negotiator explained.

A record of the consultation and any medicine supplied will be made on PharmOutcomes, and a notification sent to the patient’s GP, it added.

Up to 618 pharmacies across the region are eligible to sign up to provide the service – which runs until March 31, 2018 – to a population of around 2.6 million people, PSNC said.

Hopes for national service

PSNC director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: “The pilot should demonstrate how the community pharmacy network can be effectively used as part of the NHS urgent care system, and it will hopefully build the case for a similar approach to be taken across the whole of England."

“Management of minor conditions has always been an important part of the community pharmacy service, so it is great to see this service integrating that pharmacy care within the wider urgent and emergency care system.”

Pharmacists enthusiastic

Andre Yeung, chair of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear local professional network (LPN) and CPRS project manager, said pharmacists involved have been “really enthusiastic about being able to perform a role as part of an integrated out-of-hospital care system”.

“They know that it will help NHS colleagues in other parts of the system,” Mr Yeung stressed.

According to PSNC, as few as 0.1% of NHS 111 referrals are currently directed to a community pharmacy, and Mr Yeung said he is aiming for the service to increase this to “as much as 8-10% of NHS 111 call volume” in the areas covered.

“The quality measures that we're putting in place with CPRS should provide a really high-quality reception point for patients that are referred to community pharmacy,” Mr Yeung added.

In order to provide the service, pharmacies must fulfil a number of requirements, including “access to IT in the consultation room, declaring that the service will only be provided by a pharmacist, access to NHSmail, access to NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries, and access to [the] summary care record.”

“A robust evaluation will enable us to understand what benefits CPRS has had for patients and the NHS,” Mr Yeung said. “Any learnings will presumably be transferable into other projects in the future.”

Do you treat patients referred via NHS 111?

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

let us not even talk of the fact staff hours are being cut and people laid off and there is not time. What will the payment be? Anyone remember when clinical services were going to guarantee financial security? Lmao.

A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

all 'proactive' pharmacists are keen on any new service to utilise their skills ,however we are busy and are already overloaded with services , with no help from employers wrt extra staff /pharmacists this puts even more pressure on 'proactive' pharmacists , those 'at the top' need to work with' us at the bottom'

Brian Austen, Senior Management

It is clear that this gives NHS111 another outlet at the same time as allowing them to be the 'Gatekeeper' controling access to pharmacy healthcare services. NHS England can control and make funding more flexible than a contractor/provider national minor ailment service. They can choose to 'turn the tap off' at any time, just like they did in primary care with the Any Qualified Provider commissioning.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

While I agree with Dave Downham's comment "Show me the money" - i.e. what is the fee basis for this, if this is a Minor Ailments scheme by any other name, why is there increased costs to the NHS by including the unnecessary step of an NHS 111 consultation? Why can't patients self-refer, or be referred by the GP, straight to a pharmacist? Doesn't make any sense

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The managers have to be paid their six figure salaries from somewhere.

Lynda Udale , Community pharmacist

There is a £14 consultation fee for anticipated 10 min . Plus a OTC sale or Minor ailments scheme. We’re signed up but haven’t had any referrals yet

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Hi Lynda

That at least seems a reasonable fee. Good luck with the service - it would be good to know how you get on



Dave Downham, Manager

Show me the money!

No, seriously, where is the money? Based on the article, it looks like a lot of administrivia to sell some cough medicine.


Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I just hope NHS111's referrals are a bit more appropriate than their NUMSAS referrals...

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