“In some parts of the country, almost every urgent medicine supply query that comes to NHS 111 is converted into a pharmacy referral,” Ed Waller, NHS England director of primary care strategy, said at the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) conference at the end of last month (January 23).
However, that is “slightly less true” in other parts of England, Mr Waller added.
“There is still an opportunity for CPCS, from NHS 111, to deliver a higher volume of referrals into pharmacy to better release other parts of the NHS, who can [then] help other people instead,” he said.
CPCS in numbers
The north west has received the highest number of CPCS referrals so far, followed by the north east and Yorkshire, according to data shared by Mr Waller at the AIMp conference.
The north west has seen 24,153 referrals to date, followed by the north east and Yorkshire with 23,502. The figures cover the period since the service – which sees pharmacies receive £14 for each consultation they complete following an NHS 111 referral for minor illnesses and urgent medicines supply – launched on October 29 last year.
Meanwhile, pharmacies that have signed up to deliver the service in the south west have received a total of 9,310 referrals to date, the lowest regional figure in England.
Overall, a total of 132,922 referrals have been generated through the CPCS, according to data shared by Mr Waller at the conference.
NHS England told C+D that it will evaluate the service offered by NHS 111 providers but was unable to clarify when the evaluation will take place as the CPCS is still a new service, it said.
Last year, NHS England told C+D that NHS 111 call handlers received “detailed” training before the launch of the CPCS service.
This included a 30-minute briefing for all staff, during which call advisors were shown an animation of how the CPCS would work and a video explaining the role of a community pharmacist.
Watch Andre Yeung, one of the architects behind the pilot that inspired the CPCS, answer pharmacists’ questions about the service in C+D's webinar from December last year (skip to 8.45 minutes for the start of the Q&A):