An advanced pharmacy service supplying emergency prescriptions saved almost 40,000 GP appointments in one year, the pharmacy minister has said.

Answering a question on the contribution of community pharmacies to the NHS on 7 March, Steve Brine said that NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) saved 38,900 GP appointments between December 2016 and December 2017.

Pharmacy’s contribution

He continued: ‘The Government recognises the important contribution that community pharmacies make to the NHS.

‘We are encouraging much greater use of community pharmacies as a first port of call in mass media campaigns such at the current Stay Well pharmacy campaign and by better integration with the rest of the NHS to help take pressure off GPs and hospitals.

‘Pharmacy will continue to be a trusted partner in delivering a world class NHS and the Government is committed to working with community pharmacy to help make this a reality.’

Pilot’s success

As of January 2018, 3,674 community pharmacies were registered to provide the service – supplying a total of 29,177 NUMSAS items between December 2016 and October 2017.

The service, which enables a patient to urgently access a drug or an appliance, is available to patients referred to the pharmacy from NHS 111. It can be provided by pharmacies that meet eligibility criteria including having a consultation room, using the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) and a shared NHSmail mailbox.

Integrating pharmacy

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) director Robbie Turner told The Pharmacist that the pilot’s results showed that ‘it’s possible to better link pharmacies into integrated care pathways through delivery of a national service’.

He added: ‘This concept should be used to support patients when they are discharged from hospital.

‘This would include a national roll out of systems to facilitate the transfer of discharge information between hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists.

‘This process should help to keep patients safe and prevent readmissions to hospital due to medication errors’.

Mr Turner argued that the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF) ‘should be fully utilised to deliver system integration by helping to support system leadership, which should in turn relieve the pressure on other areas if the NHS’.