A service piloted by North East Ambulance Service’s NHS111 service has won a national award after saving thousands of patients from unnecessary trips to hospital.
The Community Pharmacy Referral Service (CPRS), which was launched in the North East in December 2017 as an NHS England pilot, has now been extended until the end of this year. CPRS beat seven other shortlisted entries in the 2018 Chemist and Druggist ‘Health Initiative of the Year’ category.
The service allows NHS111 health advisors to refer patients to their nearest community pharmacy for help with minor illnesses.
With more than 380 pharmacies across the region on board, more than 8,000 patients have so far been referred to the service. Of those seen, only 11% have been referred to a GP for an urgent in hours appointment and another 11% referred out of hours for support.
Similar services are now being set up in other parts of the country.
Mark Richardson, Emergency Operations Centre section manager, who has led on the project for NEAS, said: “As an innovative service, we’re always keen to trial new services for the benefit of our patients and the wider health service around us.
“As well as helping us deliver patient care closer to home, this service also benefits the wider healthcare economy by freeing up capacity within primary care for other patients who require those services. Furthermore, it has extremely high patient satisfaction levels as patients are able to be seen very quickly and are often able to have their issue dealt with there and then by the pharmacist.”