More than 5,000 patients have been supported by a new community pharmacy pilot which aims to relieve pressure on primary care.
The Community Pharmacy Referral Service (CPRS) launched in December and directs NHS111 patients whose symptoms dictate that they could be assessed and treated by a community pharmacist to their nearest pharmacy.
Details of the call are securely transferred electronically to the pharmacy ready for their arrival and if the pharmacist determines that further assessment is needed, they will assist the patient in making an appointment with their own GP.
Before the pilot, less than 1% of all 111 referrals were made to a community pharmacy with these patients typically ending up somewhere else in primary care such as GP services, walk-in centres and in some cases A&E.
Since its launch, 5,086 patients have gone through the service, either with a physical referral or provided with care advice by pharmacists over the phone. Only 9% have been referred to a GP for a non-urgent appointment and no patients have been referred to 999.
With a patient satisfaction rate of 95%, the pilot has been extended for a further six months.
Sue Tucker, strategic head of the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), said: “We’re incredibly proud to have a strong history of innovation within our 111 service here in the North East and this pilot is another such example of how we can provide better support for our patients by working together with partners across the region. The early results are promising and we’re looking forward to what the next six months will bring.”