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A total of 114,275 with minor illnesses or urgent medication needs have received same-day pharmacist referrals so far, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed on Sunday.

The community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS), introduced on October 29, 2019, enables NHS111 health advisers to refer patients with minor illnesses to their local pharmacy for assessment and treatment.

Since the beginning of the service, pharmacists across the country have received 64,067 urgent medication requests for conditions such as diabetes or asthma, while 50, 208 people with minor illness were also given clinical advice.

The total number of pharmacies currently registered for the service is 10,610.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I want to see more patients with minor illnesses assessed close to home, saving them unnecessary trips to A&E or the GP, and helping people get the care and advice they need quicker.

“Thousands of patients receiving same-day advice from highly skilled pharmacists 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’,” he said.

CPCS is funded through the £2.6 billion per year agreed in the five-year community pharmacy contractual framework.

The latest statistics come just a few days after NHS Accident and Emergency delays (A&E) recorded the worst ever level in 15 years.

Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said CPCS “unlocks the full potential of community pharmacy, giving it a more central role in healthcare and speeding up patient’s access to excellent care and face-to-face consultations.”

“The number of referrals from NHS 111 in the first 2 months alone shows how well it is working and reaction has been good, with people telling us they have been satisfied with the service they received,” Warner said.

Commenting on the statistics, Company Chemists Association (CCA) Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison congratulated all of the community pharmacy teams, public and the NHS.

“Today’s figures show how community pharmacy is becoming an integral part of the urgent care system. We’d like to continue to build on these great results and further support the primary care and urgent care systems,” Harrison said.

RPS England Chair Claire Anderson said: “The CPCS shows how pharmacy can play a vital role supporting GPs and urgent care. With the positive response from the public and policymakers, we’re looking forward to this service expanding to include referrals from other parts of the health service.

Anderson underlined the importance of pharmacists getting time and support they need to deliver a quality service.

“Amid growing pressure on the NHS, it’s crucial the Government invests in pharmacy to help people stay healthy and out of hospital,” she added.

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