All primary care networks (PCNs) will be required to collaborate with community pharmacies from April 2020, NHS England has said.
In guidance for local pharmaceutical committees, published on 17 June 2019, NHS England outlined how PCNs could involve community pharmacies, adding that “collaboration with non-GP providers, such as community pharmacies, will be a requirement for PCNs from April 2020”.
The guidance added that it expects each PCN to include an average of between 10 and 11 community pharmacies.
While the guidance said the exact role that community pharmacies “will take in each PCN will be for individual networks and their local community pharmacies to agree”, it outlined four possibilities.
These included offering the newly expanded GP Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS), which was launched in 54 pharmacies and 26 GP practices across England in June 2019.
The GP DMIRS is expected to “provide a network-based referral route for patients with minor illnesses,” NHS England’s guidance said.
It added that community pharmacies could also take the lead on delivering public health campaigns within the network and “help deliver against the service specifications in the GP contract in areas such as CVD [cardiovascular disease] detection and around awareness of cancer symptoms and promoting early diagnosis”.
PCNs were first announced in the ‘NHS Long Term Plan’ and each one is expected to serve 30,000–50,000 patients from 1 July 2019.