The CPCS – introduced as part of the five-year funding contract in England, with the stated aim of establishing community pharmacy as the “first port of call” for low acuity conditions – will see pharmacies paid £14 for every phone or face-to-face consultation completed.
Less than a week away from the launch date, how have pharmacists prepared for the service?
The Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) – tasked by NHS England with training pharmacists to deliver the service – is delivering one-day workshops across England, as well as e-learning modules.
There are 2,500 places available up to March for pharmacists, NHS England told C+D.
Rekha Shah, CEO of Kensington Chelsea and Westminster local pharmaceutical committee (LPC), said some contractors in her area attended the CPPE training last weekend “and the feedback from that is superb”.
“Some of the things they covered included red flags – what to look out for. It made them really think about how they are going to manage those patients,” she says.
Those who could not attend “formal training” were able to learn from colleagues at a contractor meeting the LPC held the following day, she adds.
She feels that pharmacy teams in her area are ready to offer the service, as they gained experience from the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) and the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) pilots.
“Similar to a minor illness service”
Lisa McGowan, pharmacy manager at the Well Pharmacy at Collum Lane Clinic in Ashby, Leicestershire also feels ready to deliver the service from next week. She expects it to be similar to the minor illness service the branch already offers.
She participated in CPCS training organised by Community Pharmacy Humber. However, she knows other pharmacists who do not feel ready for the service, which she suggested might be due to a lack of mandatory training.
“With most patient group directions, there’s something that you need to do to deliver the service”, while “there isn’t anything like that for this particular service”, she says.
Pharmacists are used to receiving training and information to “prove that they can do the service”, Ms McGowan added.
“Coming in quite quickly”
An anonymous locum pharmacist based in Kent told C+D they believe the service has been introduced “quite quickly”.
They claimed it has mostly been contractors who have benefited from existing training, while locums “are just going to turn up and they're going to be hit with this new service that they're expected to do, which they're not going to know how to do”.
All the relevant training in their area is also scheduled to start in December, one month after the service launches, they said.
Figuring out the elements
Amish Patel, pharmacist and owner of Hodgson Pharmacy in Kent, has completed all the recommended CPPE training and now needs to understand how the service will work in practice.
“All of the most time-consuming stuff, I’ve done,” he told C+D. “Now I need to figure out the logistical stuff.”
James Wood, CEO of Community Pharmacy Surrey and Sussex, said pharmacy teams in his area feel ready to offer the service from “a clinical perspective”.
But they are still preparing for the different elements of the service, he added.
There is also a “small cohort of pharmacists who feel that they need a bit of a refresh or more confidence around delivering aspects of the service”, Mr Wood added, which is why the organisation has arranged for another training date with CPPE.
A weekly CPCS implementation group has been set up with other local health organisations, “led by LPCs across Surrey, Sussex and Kent”.
The group has representatives from the local NHS England and NHS 111 providers, the directory of service leads and “all the key stakeholders to deal with urgent care”, he said.
“It’s got all of us together with a view to making sure that we help pharmacists, pharmacies and other parts of the system, making sure we’re all aligned in terms of our readiness to go live,” Mr Wood added.
Over 1,000 Lloydspharmacy branches signed up
Meanwhile, Lloydspharmacy is working “closely with its store teams to make sure they are confident and ready to deliver the CPCS”.
So far “over 1,000” of its pharmacies have signed up to deliver the service, and it “expects to have all teams up and running ahead of the launch”, it told C+D today.
“We understand how important it is to help our employees understand what it means for them and how it will benefit our customers and patients,” the multiple added.
Each pharmacy has been supported with a set of standard operating procedures and a CPCS toolkit, “to help them understand how it works and what they need to do”.