Over 100,000 patients across the UK have been saved unnecessary A&E trips or GP appointments in less than two months thanks to referrals to community pharmacists by NHS 111, and over eight thousand of these are from the South West.
The Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), launched in late October. Here we opened the door for NHS 111 health advisors to refer patients with minor illnesses to their local pharmacy for assessment and treatment.
The first seven weeks of the scheme has seen 8,037 patients across the South West with minor ailments directed from 111 to a same-day appointment with their local pharmacist, and 114,275 patients across the country.
These South West appointments included 4,662 patients receiving an urgent medicine supply, such as for diabetes or asthma, and provided advice to over 3,375 people with a minor illness, such as a sore throat or earache.
Michael Marsh, South West Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement said:
“Thousands of patients receiving same-day advice from highly-skilled pharmacists close to home 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’.
Patients still have a range of convenient options for accessing care should they wish, but pharmacists are highly qualified health care professionals who undergo five years of training, giving them expert knowledge on how to use medicines and support patients.
With the busy winter period approaching, 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 ailments and ensure they have the medication they need.
Simon Dukes, PSNC 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.”