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Allow patients to contact pharmacists through NHS 111, NHS England recommends

Practice A report on urgent and emergency care in England says patients should be able to use the NHS 111 service to contact a wider range of health professionals

Community pharmacy should be incorporated into the NHS 111 service so the "untapped potential" of the profession can be exploited, a report by NHS England has said.

NHS England's national medical director Sir Bruce Keogh called on the health service to "harness the skills, experience and accessibility of community pharmacies up and down the country" to reduce the pressure on emergency services, in the report published yesterday (November 13).

Patients should be able to use the NHS 111 phone line to contact a wider range of health professionals, including community pharmacists, as part of a fundamental shift in the provision of urgent care away from hospitals, said Sir Bruce's team in response to ongoing review of urgent and emergency care in England.

Patients should be able to use the NHS 111 phone line to contact a wider range of health professionals, including community pharmacists, said the NHS England report

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Patients should also be able to use the phone service to book a "review" at a pharmacy with extended opening hours, NHS England's urgent and emergency care review team said in the report to health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The NHS 111 service has come under fire from pharmacists since its pilot in 2010, because less than 3 per cent of callers in the initial sites were referred to pharmacy.

"Community pharmacies are an under-used resource: many are now open 100 hours a week, with a qualified pharmacist on hand to advise on minor illnesses, medication queries and other problems. We can capitalise on the untapped potential and convenience," the report's authors said.

"With four years of training, pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge and experience. We intend to ensure these are utilised more effectively," they added.

The transformation of emergency services was a "major undertaking" and the authors anticipated that it would take between three and five years to enact the changes. The team would deliver its next report in spring 2014, it said.

Celesio UK managing Cormac Tobin said the report recognised the "critical role" pharmacy could play in preventing a winter crisis at A&E departments. The NHS needed a long-term approach to expanding the role of community pharmacy or the health service would face "crisis after crisis", he said.

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott told C+D that the report's recommendations were an "open door" for pharmacy to provide more appropriate care and the sector now needed to "make it happen".

Should pharmacists have a greater role in providing urgent care?

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Eunoia ., Community pharmacist


S S Locum, Locum pharmacist

JOHN RANDELL, but we are health PROFESSIONALS, saving doctors time. we should be doing it free or for peanuts!!!!

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

pay me for it and i will do it........but for free while i have prescriptions and customers to serve FORGET IT.....


Leon The Apothecary, Student

I think the people who receive the 111 calls should be further supported by pharmacy staff, such as technicians and pharmacists. It's exactly the sort of environment that pharmacy staff are trained to deal with, and could greatly diminish the burden upon the doctor staff for the more serious issues.

I get to see a lot of OOH prescriptions during by evening shifts. From personal experience there are items prescribed that could be safely prescribed by an independent prescriber or by PGD.

There has also been many people we get to see where symptoms are easy to diagnose. When I have to refer a patient to OOH because of a cystitis complaint that has not been cured with OTC remedies, I automatically prepare a 3 day course of Trimethoprim to be taken twice a day. Saves a few minutes later :)

Minor Ailments and PGD for Technicians are a step in the right direction for delivering urgent care, reducing workload on doctors, and increasing Pharmacy's profile.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Pretty much sums up most evenings for me at the Pharmacy!

michael mustoe, Community pharmacist

Of course pharmacists should play a bigger role in the provision of urgent care. Its about 30 years late thats all!
We already provide a service of emergency care - its just largely unrecognised by officialdom!

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