NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has highlighted the clinical expertise of community pharmacists, while marking the success of the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Launched last autumn, there have now been over 332,000 consultations through the service in England, referred through NHS 111.
‘High street pharmacists are highly qualified clinical experts who are playing a key part in the NHS’ frontline response to the greatest public health threat in our history, and they are making thousands of safe, convenient consultations available every day,’ he said.
‘This new service is part of a continually-developing NHS 111 service which is helping millions of people to safely access the right help fast, often without the need to go to a hospital A&E department.
‘As the NHS adapts its urgent care services for the coronavirus era, these new options are going to be increasingly important,’ he added.
The CPCS service has been an important part of the primary care response to the Covid-19 pandemic, NHS leaders said, with 94% (10,815) of NHS pharmacies in England registered to provide the service.
Chief pharmaceutical officer, Dr Keith Ridge, thanked pharmacy teams for their work.
‘The achievement of 332,000 referrals since the service started at the end of October last year is phenomenal and demonstrates once and for all how much trust the public places in NHS 111 and their local pharmacist. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make this a success,’ said Dr Ridge.
Over 180,000 medicine reviews and health checks through the service have taken place since the end of January. Almost 190,000 people have been referred to the CPCS service for an urgent medicines supply. An additional 12% were successfully escalated after triage by the pharmacist.
The service will continue to play an important role as lockdown is relaxed, the NHS has said.
‘With the NHS encouraging more people to come forward for care who might have held back due to Covid-19 concerns, local pharmacies are gearing up to provide an increasing number of consultations safely, so that all those who would benefit can be referred,’ an NHS statement said.
Minister for primary care Jo Churchill commented: ‘As the pharmacy sector continues to adapt and adopt new ways of working, services like this demonstrate that pharmacy and the wider NHS will always be there for those who need it.’