Nearly 13,000 patients in London have been saved unnecessary A&E trips or GP appointments this winter thanks to referrals to community pharmacists by NHS 111.
The NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), launched in late October 2019, opened the door for NHS 111 health advisors to refer patients with minor illnesses to their local pharmacist for assessment and treatment. The CPCS is nationally funded as part of the £2.592 billion per year agreed in the community pharmacy five-year contract.
The first two months of the scheme has seen nearly 13,000 patients with minor ailments directed from 111 to a same-day appointment with their local pharmacist in London. These appointments comprised more than 7,000 demands for an urgent medicine supply, such as for diabetes or asthma, and provided clinical advice to over 5,000 people with a minor illness, such as a sore throat or earache.
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said:
“Thousands of patients receiving same-day advice from highly-skilled pharmacists is exactly what we need. Community pharmacy is an integral and trusted part of the NHS and we want every patient with a minor illness to think ‘pharmacy first’.
“This is just part of this government’s work to deliver on the people’s priorities and strengthen our NHS. Our record financial commitment for the NHS of £33.9 billion extra every year within the next 5 years – which we’re enshrining in law – will also allow us to expand frontline services with 50,000 more nurses, 6,000 more GPs and 6,000 more primary care professionals.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said:
“Seeing a pharmacist is often the best and most convenient first step for minor health concerns, and they can provide one-to-one, confidential consultations. Pharmacists are highly skilled health professionals who undergo five years of training, giving them expert knowledge on how to use medicines to support patients.
With the busy winter period approaching, the NHS in London is already looking after significantly more people than ever before. Patients can use the free NHS 111 phone and online service for urgent medical needs, see their local pharmacist for minor illnesses and ensure they are stocked up on the medication they need.”
Simon Dukes, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee Chief Executive, said:
“The Community Pharmacist Consultation Service has been a long time coming. But finally, pharmacists on the high street are being asked to use their clinical skills and knowledge to help patients manage minor conditions; and it gives patients a convenient option for receiving high quality and clinically safe care and advice when they need it.
“We’re delighted that so many pharmacies are already offering this important service and in doing so helping their patients and taking pressure off NHS colleagues.”
As the NHS is already looking after significantly more people than ever before, patients can use the free NHS 111 phone and online service for urgent medical needs, see their local pharmacist for minor illnesses and ensure they have the medication they need.