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Charac CEO calls for technological reform in Pharmacy First Service

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Santosh Sahu, CEO of Charac, responds to the CCA’s report on the uneven patient engagement with the Pharmacy First service across the UK

A recent report by the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) has revealed a significant disparity in patient engagement with the Pharmacy First service across the UK.

In response, Santosh Sahu, Founder and CEO at Charac, has emphasised the need for technological reform to address “the interoperability gap between pharmacists and GPs”.

Sahu identified the lack of GP referrals for Pharmacy First consultations as a key issue, attributing it to inadequate IT infrastructure.

He urged the sector to “implement technological reforms to enhance interoperability between pharmacists and GPs, enabling them to share patient records, identify care pathways, and address health needs more effectively”.

The CCA’s data analysis, conducted eleven weeks post-service launch, shows that over 3,000 member pharmacies have delivered 126,484 Pharmacy First consultations.

However, the distribution of these consultations is uneven, with almost 13,000 completed in the North East and North Cumbria ICS, compared to just 948 in Gloucestershire ICS.

The report also reveals that only 30 per cent of GP surgeries have referred a patient for a Pharmacy First consultation, with a staggering 69 per cent of these referrals coming from just 7 per cent of surgeries.

Despite previous analysis showing that only a quarter of Pharmacy First consultations come from electronic referrals, the data suggests a close link between referrals and the number of consultations.

The CCA is advocating for a three-pronged strategy to ensure the success of Pharmacy First.

This includes high-quality public engagement campaigns, adopting best practices from higher-performing ICSs, and a commitment to fund the service beyond 2025.

Sahu believes that technology, such as Charac, is crucial in simplifying the referral process for GPs and reducing their workload, thereby allowing them to focus more on treating urgent health concerns.

He added, “The digitalisation of our primary care services will reduce the burden on both pharmacists and GPs, increasing communication and helping them share the load, and enhance patient care for all.”

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