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Following a period of successful piloting, the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) has, from Nov 1, been extended to include referrals from general practices in addition to NHS 111.

General practices now can choose to refer patients to the CPCS for minor illnesses, but the Pharmaceutical Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee says there must be local discussions to agree how this will work before GPs able able to make these referrals.

“These discussions will involve pharmacy contractors, the primary care network (PCN) and the member general practices, the NHS and your local pharmaceutical committee (LPC),” the pharmacy negotiator adds in its update to community pharmacy.

Commenting on the official start of the new referral system, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at PSNC said: “The rollout of this new referral pathway will be gradually achieved over the next few months; this is deliberately not a big bang start. However, the official commencement is still a noteworthy event, as we expect this addition to the CPCS to become a community pharmacy service offering which is highly valued by patients and general practice alike.

“The successful rollout of this service will rely on team working, with NHSE&I regional teams providing local leadership and support, with assistance from others, including LPCs.

“The NHS has a significant task to undertake in supporting general practices to engage with the CPCS. Discussions between community pharmacy and general practice within PCNs will also be critical to achieving a successful local rollout.

“In some cases this may be the first time the two professions have had such discussions, but while there may be challenges to overcome, this referral pathway should create a new foundation of collaboration between general practices and pharmacies, which can be built on in the years ahead.”

Pharmacies which are already registered to provide CPCS do not need to re-register to receive referrals from GPs, as this is an extension to the existing advanced services.

However, contractors who are not registered to provide the service will need to register via the NHSBSA Manage Your Service (MYS) portal to be allowed to run the advanced service.

The CPCS was launched by the NHS on October 29 last year as a means to integrate community pharmacy into local urgent care services, providing more convenient treatment closer to patients’ homes.

The first phase of the service offered patients the option of having a face-to-face or remote consultation with a pharmacist following an initial assessment by an NHS 111 call advisor.

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