A new NHS scheme has seen almost 40,000 Londoners get a quick, safe, face-to-face appointment with a local pharmacist, helping them to get care safely and faster during the coronavirus pandemic.
The NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) has helped 37,200 people across the Capital since being set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, published in January 2019, as one of a number of improvements to the popular 111 service to enable the public to access the right help in the right place.
Available through the fast and free NHS 111 phone or online service, those who would benefit are booked in for a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist for a range of minor illnesses or to get an urgent supply of a previously prescribed medicine.
With the NHS encouraging more people to come forward for care who might have held back due to Covid-19 concerns, local pharmacies are gearing up to provide an increasing number of consultations safely, so that all those who would benefit can be referred.
Liz Wise, Director of Primary Care and Public Health Commissioning at NHS London said:
“Pharmacies across the capital have put their all into supporting their communities during the pandemic and have made a real difference to so many people.
“Access to same day advice and care via the NHS 111 CPCS is even more important at this time – with 37,200 referrals since the service started, Londoners have demonstrated how much they value NHS 111 and their local pharmacist in helping them get advice and treatment.”
Local pharmacies have joined GP practices, out of hours GP and dental services, and Urgent Treatment Centres among the range of alternatives to hospital A&Es that people can be booked into if they need urgent care.”
This is in addition to the clinical advice dispensed to thousands of patients who every day choose to phone or walk into their local pharmacy to seek help with minor health concerns or with their medicines.
Martin Uhelak, superintendent pharmacist, Pavilion Pharmacy, Lambeth, London, said:
“Our pharmacy has been a hub of support to the community throughout the crisis. As addition to our normal service, we’ve helped many through the NHS 111 CPCS scheme. We’ve also set up a service to help deliver medicines to self-isolating patients by putting a request out via local neighbourhood apps for support, and then inviting respondents to attend training sessions.
“I’m so proud of all the pharmacy team and how we’ve risen to the challenge of COVID-19, providing clinical advice on minor illnesses and medicines and often reassuring families with children, older people living alone and those people who have been struggling to cope.”
1,655 pharmacies in London (89.3 per cent) have registered to provide the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service.
Insect and spider bites, skin and eye problems, headaches and injuries were among the majority of issues resolved by a same-day consultation with a pharmacist, with medicine given if required.
An additional two hundred people were successfully helped through escalation after immediate triage by the pharmacist, helping them to get the urgent care and treatment they need as quickly as possible. An escalation by a pharmacist may be the push many need to seek care during an uncertain time, as some put off seeking urgent medical help due to the COVID-19 outbreak.