People registered with a GP in Darwen will soon benefit from a new scheme that NHS England are trialling in their area which will see people receive a same-day booked appointment via their GP surgery to see a community pharmacist if they have a minor illness or condition that doesn’t need to be seen by a GP.
This pilot scheme – called the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) – launches on August 23 and runs to the end of March 2020 and aims to make the best use of the clinical skills of a community pharmacist. When patients phone or attend their local surgery with a minor illness, those who meet the criteria will be offered a same-day booked appointment with a community pharmacist at their local pharmacy. This means that patients will see a health professional more quickly, as well as helping free up more GP time for urgent patient needs and helping to reduce non-emergency A&E visits.
The pharmacist will carry out a consultation with the patient in the privacy of the pharmacy consulting room and make an appropriate clinical record to assess symptoms of minor illness and access to an appropriate treatment or material to support advice about health and well-being.
Research suggests that up to 6% of all GP consultations could be safely transferred and managed by a clinical consultation with a community pharmacist. All pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines and are trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice. If a patient’s symptoms suggest it is something more serious, the pharmacist also has the right clinical training to ensure people get the help that they need.
The NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service scheme has been tested in other areas of the country through NHS 111 and has shown good progress with patients consistently referred and reporting high satisfaction rates. Episodes of care have been completed safely and appropriately instead of patients having to wait for a GP appointment and with the understanding that patients will be escalated to an appropriate service if necessary.
Dr Penny Morris, Medical Director at Blackburn with Darwen Clincial Commissioning Group (CCG) and Darwen GP, is taking part in the pilot and said: “I know from the patients that come to my surgery that not everyone needs to see a doctor and it is sensible to refer people to the clinician who has the skills to assess and treat them as quickly as possible. This will make the best use of NHS resources in the local area as demand on services continues to rise.”
Dr Raj Patel, Deputy National Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England & NHS Improvement, added: “This pilot scheme will be a great help to both GP practices and local communities. It offers a safe and effective way of referring people with common conditions to see a local pharmacist on the same day, while still being overseen by their GP practice.
“Under the NHS Long Term Plan we’re committed to making better use of the clinical skills of pharmacists who are increasingly working alongside GPs.”