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CPCS: ‘Delight’ at ‘widespread and effective’ referral service

Mark Lyonette: National Pharmacy Association is “delighted” by CPCS data
Mark Lyonette: National Pharmacy Association is “delighted” by CPCS data

Pharmacy organisations have praised the figures from the first two months of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), with the NPA “delighted” by the data.

The service has seen 114,275 patients with minor illnesses or in need or urgent medicines supply in England referred by NHS 111 for a consultation with a community pharmacist since its launch on October 29, the DH announced on Sunday (January 12).

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette said the service shows the NHS has “recognised the potential to make greater use of the skills of community pharmacists in urgent care”.

“Pharmacists are an indispensable component of the urgent care pathway, the first port-of-call for advice on minor illnesses, as well as a vital support for people with long-term medical conditions,” he said.

The NPA will work with the NHS to ensure that implementation of the service is “widespread and effective”, Mr Lyonette added.

Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) – which represents the largest pharmacy multiples – said the impact of the service has been “significant”, and the latest figures “show how community pharmacy is becoming an integral part of the urgent care system”.

Mr Harrison congratulated pharmacy teams who have worked hard to make the service a “success for patients, the public and the NHS”, and said the CCA would “like to continue to build on these great results”.

RPS: Pharmacies need “time and support”

The data from the first two months of the CPCS shows that pharmacy can play a “vital role” supporting GPs and urgent care, Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English board chair Claire Anderson said.

It is important pharmacists “get the time and support” they need to deliver a “quality service” for patients, Professor Anderson said.

“Amid growing pressure on the NHS, it’s crucial the government invests in pharmacist to help people stay healthy and out of hospital.”

The RPS is “looking forward” to the service being expanding to include referrals from other parts of the health service following a “positive response” from the public and policymakers, Professor Anderson added.

AIMp: Members should capture referral data

It is “encouraging to see that community pharmacists have embraced [the] CPCS”, Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) chief executive Leyla Hannbeck commented.

She emphasised that having relevant information is “always useful to see how the service is progressing”, and said AIMp encourages its members to capture referral data and feed back positive experiences of the service.

“With the right funding and encouragement, community pharmacists can be a strong pillar to rely on to deliver clinical services,” Ms Hannbeck added.

Watch Andre Yeung, one of the architects behind the pilot that inspired the CPCS, answer pharmacists’ questions about the service in last's month C+D webinar (skip to 8.45 minutes for the start of​ the Q&A):

Have you received many referrals from NHS 111 as part of the CPCS?

Jenny Etches, Community pharmacist

What I've learnt so far is that many 111 calls are for exactly the same things I deal with every day as a community pharmacist but normally doesn't attract £14 fee for a lot of form filling. If we got paid £14 for every time I give out advice, sell a med and/or refer on i would be very well off. 
I have a friend who is a 111 call handler but also a qualified nurse and she spends  99% of her time dealing with pointless calls. Why are people calling 111 for so many very minor things. And then one referral was patently a sepsis risk and why hadn't 111 referred straight to AandE? 

Emmanuel Chisadza, Community pharmacist

The service design is clunky. There is way too much form filling for the £14 they pay.  The data capture needs to be intergrated with the PMR so that you label and capture all the required data in one operation. In my experience the 111 operators are not triaging well. Most of the referrals are inappropriate. We should not be dealing with very ill children and controlled drug emergency requests at all.


PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

I have had one referral so far. The form filling is tedious and very time consuming. There is no proper flow on the Sonar syetem. Need to improve on that front so we do not waste time doing this and not seeing patients as we are supposed to do.

Otherwise a very positive step for pharmacy.


Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

They have to praise it so they can keep the cash taps open for themselves and give the impression they're being innovative and novel. Meanwhile on the frontline conditions worsen and pay is static or falling.


Watto 59, Community pharmacist

I have received about half a dozen in 3 months. Only one so far  should actually have been referred that could be attributed to a useful input from pharmacy. 

The best of the rest of useless timewasting referrals was for an emergency supply for an obscure dressing sent at 5 am on New Year's Day when it should have been clear to NHS111 that we were closed for the whole day.  Furthemore  processsing of these referrals takes much longer than the actual consultation.   

The Orwellian "doublespeak" by which too many pharmacy bodies uncritically praise these Emperor's New Clothes is cringeworthy.    

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