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Rollout of CPCS GP referrals planned for autumn, says PSNC CEO

The launch date of GP referrals under the CPCS are being negotiated
The launch date of GP referrals under the CPCS are being negotiated

Pharmacies in England could start receiving referrals from GP practices under the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) from the autumn, PSNC CEO Simon Dukes has said.

“The success of this service will be built on the success of relationships between community pharmacies and also GP colleagues,” Mr Dukes said at the Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) conference, organised by the PSNC and held virtually yesterday (September 16).

This new feature of the CPCS will also “build the platform for longer term relationships between the two professions”, which “has to be a good thing”, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) CEO added.

GP referrals to pharmacies under the CPCS service have been “enabled” from November 1, following amendments to the Pharmaceutical Services (Advanced and Enhanced Services and Emergency Declaration) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Directions 2020 on August 28.

The exact launch date of the GP referrals will be subject to negotiations between the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and Improvement (NHSE&I) and PSNC.

Speaking at an online event hosted by Pharmacy London – a representative body for London LPCs – today (September 17), pharmacy minister Jo Churchill spoke of the imminent launch of the GP extension of the service. “We are working to bring on stream GP minor illness referrals to the CPCS from November,” Ms Churchill said.

CPCS referrals from GP practices were expected to be rolled out nationally “as early as April”, according to last year’s Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework. However, the rollout was postponed earlier this year due to COVID-19.

Discharge Medicine Service

Mr Dukes also updated delegates on the Discharge Medicines Service. The new essential service, originally scheduled to be introduced in July this year, is now expected to launch in January 2021, he said.

LPCs and contractors will receive the service specification and toolkit, which are being agreed on with NHSE&I, “in the very near future”, he added.

Mr Dukes also said that PSNC was pleased that its requested amendment to this year’s flu service had been agreed to.

Community pharmacies and GP practices will collaborate on the delivery of this “ambitious” service which will, for the first time, be backed by a “joint incentive scheme”, Mr Dukes said.

What do you make of this announcement?

R A, Community pharmacist

You know the biggest problem to any progress in the world of community pharmacy is the multiples. Too long have they commoditised the business by appointing incompetent individuals as area managers/regional directors or to other roles which have self grandiose titles. The only problem is 99% of the individuals I have come across in these roles are just looking after 'number one'. Most are reluctant to look at the problems of community pharmacy and advocate its interest at upper level. Instead at the slightest trouble throw the pharmacist under the bus!

This is the crux of the problem we lack an effective voice to articulate what we need to make community pharmacy sustainable. Most GP know community pharmacy is an easy target to palm off unwanted work only. My only concern is that the chemist business has declined so much I'm not sure it will be around for much longer. 

TC PA, Community pharmacist

Imagine the number of referrals we'd have if we stopped giving out any advice or "loaning" tablets without a 111 referral.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

NHS111 in our area is digital now.  I get the patient to go into consultation room, fill in the online referral if they need a 'loan'.  This means the CPCS referral gets sent automatically into my pharmacy and not to anyone else and enables us to speedily sort out any issues.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hope you hose down your consultation room each time....

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

GPs won't use this "service" (ie create a proper CPCS referral, for which we will get paid) they'll just say "Go and see your Pharmacist, it's what they get paid for" but without a proper referral, no fee. The question is, how do we differentiate between the casual "my GP says I should speak to you" and what should be a proper CPCS referral? Maybe we should do what hospital consultants do. "You're GP wants you to see me? Better get him to complete the proper referral forms then!" Never gonna happen!!!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

It will require pharmacies to be pedantic and insist on an official referral. I do not think it will be pleasant, but enforcing this is important.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

There's nothing in it for them, except for those GPs that own pharmacies, of which there are quite a few, who will use this service an awful lot, so if you work in one of those - brace yourself chaps!!

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