Since its launch on October 29, 114,275 patients with minor illnesses or in need or urgent medicines supply in England have been referred by NHS 111 for a consultation with a community pharmacist.
Of these referrals, 64,067 were requests for urgent medication, for conditions such as diabetes or asthma. The remaining 50,208 referrals were patients with minor illnesses who required clinical advice, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said yesterday (January 12).
The north-west of England saw the highest number of referrals, followed by the north-east and Yorkshire (see full table below):
The service will be expanded to include referrals from general practice by the end of 2020, subject to the evaluation of pilots, the DH said.
So far, 10,610 of England’s 11,500 community pharmacies have signed up to provide the service. Pharmacies receive £14 for each resulting consultation.
Hancock: Pharmacy is integral part of NHS
Responding to the CPCS figures, health secretary Matt Hancock said community pharmacy is an “integral and trusted” part of the NHS.
The DH wants patients with minor illnesses to “think ‘pharmacy first’”, said Mr Hancock, who expects to see pharmacists “ready and able to do much more” to keep people healthy and relieve pressure on hospitals.
The ‘pharmacy first’ approach “makes life easier for patients and will help reduce pressure in the NHS”, he added.
CPCS “unlocks full potential” of pharmacy
England’s deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner said the CPCS has been a “fantastic success”, which “unlocks the full potential of community pharmacy”.
Patients have said they are “satisfied with the service they received”, and the number of referrals “shows how well it is working”, he added.
PSNC: Patients receive convenient option
Meanwhile, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Simon Dukes pointed out that the CPCS has been a “long time coming”, and offers patients a “convenient option for receiving high quality and clinically safe care and advice”.
Mr Dukes is “delighted” that so many pharmacies are offering the service and “taking pressure off NHS colleagues” in the process, he 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):