More than half of England’s community pharmacies have signed up to offer the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), which went live on 29 October 2019, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.
This comes as Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which provides NHS 111 services to Yorkshire and the Humber, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and Bassetlaw, made the first CPCS referral to a PharmOutcomes community pharmacy at 02:11 on 29 October 2019 — the first day of the consultation service’s national rollout.
North East Ambulance Service, which operates across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham, Darlington and Teesside, then made the first minor illness referral into a PharmOutcomes pharmacy at 04:43.
Jo Churchill, health minister, told the House of Commons on 2 October 2019 that 2,000 pharmacies had signed up to offer the service, with NHS England saying the CPCS needed at least 4,000 pharmacies to register to avoid putting a ”massive pressure” on urgent care services.
NHS Digital figures show that there were 11,619 community pharmacies in England during 2017/2018 (the most recent figures available).
The CPCS was first announced as part of the ‘Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework for 2019/20 to 2023/24’ and combines the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service and the NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Advanced Service.
Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at the PSNC, said the launch of the service nationally “is a milestone for community pharmacy and its role within the NHS”.
“The service will be instrumental in changing the public mindset to consider pharmacy as the first port of call for their healthcare needs,” he said, adding that the CPCS “will showcase the expertise of community pharmacists”.
“As that value becomes clear, we hope to adapt the service in future years to cover self-referral by patients,” he added.