A national project enabling NHS111 to refer low acuity patients to community pharmacies will launch on 4 December.
The Community Pharmacy Referral Service (CPRS) aims to relieve pressure on existing urgent care services and deliver care closer to home in the community. It has the potential to refer up to 35,000 additional patients per year into community pharmacy rather than other NHS services.
Currently less than 1% of all 111 referrals are made to a community pharmacy and patients typically ending up somewhere else in primary care such as GP services, walk-in centres and in some cases A&E.
Increasing the number of referrals made to community pharmacy will therefore create capacity in primary care services for those patients who require that particular level of care.
Referral to the CPRS will be exclusively through NHS111. After completing a triage, if the patient’s symptoms dictate that they could be assessed and treated by a community pharmacist, the Directory of Services will suggest a number of nearby pharmacies.
Details of the call will then be securely transferred electronically to the receiving pharmacy and the patient will be given the address and asked to attend within the timeframe of the triage disposition.
Upon arrival at the pharmacy, the patient will be assessed by a fully qualified pharmacist in a private consultation room. The patient will be provided with advice and guidance on how to manage their symptoms, and may be recommended an over the counter medication to treat their ailment.
If the pharmacist determines that the patients symptoms require further assessment, or require additional tests and investigations to be carried out then the pharmacist will assist the patient in making an appointment with their own GP.