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London GP CPCS referrals 'languishing', LPC chiefs claim

Pharmacy London: “More support and resource needed to get” GP CPCS referrals “off the ground”

Most community pharmacies in London are yet to receive a GP CPCS referral, with the city “languishing” at the bottom of an NHS GP referrals table, an LPC has claimed.

Pharmacy London chair Raj Matharu claimed to C+D that as of last week (April 19), there were “zero referrals in south-east London” and that the capital was “languishing” at the bottom of a table listing GP Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) referrals on the FutureNHS website.

GP practices in south-east London “seem to think” that signing up to the GP referral pathway would increase their workload, Mr Matharu said. “The fact that the GP CPCS pilot demonstrated a positive impact on GP appointments is not seen as an advantage,” he added.

GP CPCS referrals have been introduced with greater success in other parts of England. The south-west region is in the lead with “just under 6,000 referrals, as of April 19”, according to Mr Matharu.

Additional barriers

Around 200 GP practices are signed up to refer patients to pharmacies under the CPCS, Pharmacy London CEO Amit Patel told C+D last week (April 23).

He believes that, in general, GP practices in London are supportive of rolling out the service, but it is the service itself that lacks central guidance for wider rollout, he said.

Mr Patel claimed that Pharmacy London resorted to funding the training for the new CPCS pathway for “both pharmacy and GP staff because there has been no support with this”.

The multitude of IT programs currently in use in GP practices and pharmacies is another barrier to the introduction of GP CPCS referrals, Mr Patel added.

“It's been left between us and the GP practices to work out what [the system] should be. That creates disparity, it creates different solutions across different geographies,” he said.

More support needed

Pharmacy London is working with its regional NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) team and GP colleagues to successfully establish GP CPCS referrals, Mr Patel continued. However, at present “there’s a lot more support and resource needed to really get this lifted off the ground”.

“Without that support and resource, we’re letting down our GP colleagues, who are clearly overworked, and we’re letting down our populations, who are struggling to [get access to a] healthcare professional,” Mr Patel said.

While neither pharmacies nor NHSE&I can currently promote the service to patients, Mr Matharu believes that patients should be able to self-refer to the CPCS as “part of the online triage offered by the NHS and general practice”.

An NHSE&I spokesperson told C+D that there is no need to enable self-referrals as part of the CPCS, as pharmacists are already required to respond directly to patients' health queries as part of the existing contract. The national commissioner is also offering GP practices some regional support to help them implement the CPCS GP referral pathway, the spokesperson added.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) told C+D last month (March 15) that introducing incentives in the GP contract could potentially increase GP practices’ engagement with CPCS.

GP referrals under the CPCS were enabled from November 1 last year. However, some preparatory work – involving pharmacy contractors, primary care networks and their member general practices, local NHSE&I teams and LPCs – is necessary to establish how the referrals need to be made, PSNC said in a factsheet on the GP referral pathway on its website.

Pharmacy contractors who complete a set of actions to roll out GP CPCS referrals by June 30 can claim a £300 engagement and setup payment, PSNC said on its website.

Has your pharmacy received a CPCS GP referral yet?

V K P, Community pharmacist

“Without that support and resource, we’re letting down our GP colleagues, who are clearly overworked,"

how is it that we are letting the GPs down?????

How nice that they are overworked whilst sitting at home and not carrying out any physical examinations.  If that is what being overworked means for the fat paychecks and pension then bring the monies over to pharmacy and we shall do all the work without saying that we are overworked. The GPs do not want to provide care which is what they went to meds school for but want to administer vaccines which does not require their expertise. Money grabbers is the message that comes across vehemently.

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

Surprise, surprise! GP’s don’t do anything if they are not paid. Referring via CPCS is extra work. It is far easier for the staff to say ‘go to the chemist’ that is if the patient can get through to the surgery in the first place

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Services are the future they say....

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Toni Hazell is  a London GP, presumably all her local Pharmacies are in the money....

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

" “Without that support and resource, we’re letting down our GP colleagues, who are clearly overworked,"

was this part of a stand up comedy show? 

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Why are you surprised?  Most GPs consider pharmacists not sufficiently qualified to take any sort of burden off them and thus enhance our stading in the eyes of the patient, and have always treated this declining profession as lesser beings.  The arrogance of the medical profession is profound and has always been so.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Why just London? It is the same all over England. This what happens if you try to extrapolate "pilot cases" and conclude the service is going to be a great success so much for Service Oriented future for CP.

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