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Pharmacies to receive patient referrals direct from GPs this month

PharmOutcomes is providing the platform for pharmacies to manage the GP referrals

GPs will be able to refer patients directly to pharmacies in the next stage of NHS England’s Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS) pilot, due to go live this month.

The “pharmacy connection scheme” referred to in NHS England’s long-term plan published in January, will see GPs refer patients with low acuity conditions – such as rashes, constipation, and vaginal discharge – directly to community pharmacies via online triage systems.

The first pilot sites are “likely” to go live this month, in the Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria and Greater Manchester areas, England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge told the Clinical Pharmacy Congress in London last Friday (June 7).

It is estimated that 6% of all GP consultations – 20.4 million appointments per year – could be safely transferred to a community pharmacist, Dr Ridge claimed in his presentation.

NHS England is working with the British Medical Association and the Royal College of General Practitioners on the rollout of the DMIRS pilot, he added.

C+D has asked NHS England for more details on the pilot, including how many pharmacies will be involved.

Success of NHS 111 referrals

The pilot follows the success of pharmacy referrals from NHS 111, which uses PharmOutcomes or NHSmail to direct patients with “a range of low acuity conditions” to a pharmacy for a consultation. NHS England first trialled the scheme as the Community Pharmacy Referral Service in Durham, Darlington, Tees, Northumberland, and Tyne and Wear in 2017, and it went on to win a C+D Award the following year.

Four areas – covering 1,966 pharmacies – are currently piloting the NHS 111 referral service, in the north east, East Midlands, London and Devon.

The pilot will run until September 30, but NHS England plans to roll the NHS 111 referrals out “to scale, subject to contract negotiations”, Dr Ridge said.

Announcing the start of negotiations for a new pharmacy funding contract in April, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee said talks would include “the possible rollout of a national minor illnesses referral service via NHS 111, and the piloting of referrals to community pharmacy from other settings such as GPs and NHS.UK”.

Would you like to receive patient referrals direct from GPs?

janet revers, Community pharmacist

I must admit I am sceptical about this scheme. I took part in the NHS 111 Referral and I have a number of criticisms. Many customers think they do not have to pay and can cause trouble when they find they have to. Also I find  some HCP do not realise the restrictions on P meds . I am a little concerned about the legal problems with a more diagnostic role but at least we get paid for it

Community Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Love this sort of thing....GP at the 'sick centre'with a team of receptionists,practice managers,nurses etc etc batting people off to the Hospital,Optician,Dentists,Pharmacist,Physio,Gymnasium 'real health centre' and getting paid a whack every time for nothing.....Meanwhile Pharmacy holds it's hand out again saying' Anything elese we can do for a pittance sir ?'

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

.. and I suppose the Dr will still get a fee for simply saying ‘Go to the pharmacy!’. He/she won’t even have to sign anything! The Practice Manager will press a button to give figures showing how many appts were saved by this scheme. Win win. For the Docs. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I would like to see the funding arrangement.

SUE THOMAS, Pharmacy Asistant/ Medicine Counter Assistant

another service to put on the pharmacies and under staffed over worked already!!! patient safety is gonna go out the window with all the extra work to do just to keep the NHS top waggs in a job.

Jitendra Hindocha, Community pharmacist

have you noticed that when we are also very in the dispensary we get referals, then we end up spending time in consulation room, and a room for of waiting patients

James Burrow,

I work in a shop which is participating in this pilot. I think it is a good idea as you know who's coming through the door and what is wrong with them. However in the SLA it says the pharmacy will get x amount per consultation. No word of how much of that will filter down to pharmacists. Plus there will be extra demand on our phone lines which already ring non-stop at 9am.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

James, how much is the ‘x’? That shouldn’t be a secret. 


Grace Lewis, Editorial

Hi James,

Would be great to find out more about your pharmacy's involvement in the pilot. Could you send me an email when you get a chance and we can go from there? [email protected]

Many thanks,

Grace, C+D Deputy Editor

C A, Community pharmacist

I personally look forward to having an extra 1.2 million queries to deal with, although it might mean I have to skip tea and reading the PJ...

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

It shouldn't be a problem - after all, GPs have been referring patients to Pharmacies for years. I just have two questions - are we being properly funded for it (and not just by the 'Well, you got a sale out of it' funding pot). Are GPs going to send patients along to 'buy some hydrocortisone for the dry skin on their face' (or similar)?

Sunil Patel, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Valid questions that need answering 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

There's a payment per consultation - so I would assume that even if a patient wasn't suitable. Quite reasonable if that's the case. As for the amount, I don't know.

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