NHS England will launch a pilot that will see GPs refer patients directly to a community pharmacy later this year, The Pharmacist has learned.

The commissioning body is working with local practices, pharmacies and commissioners on the pilot, which will run in sites across England supported by cash from the Pharmacy Integration Fund, it told The Pharmacist yesterday (8 January).

The pilot follows on rom the success of pilots referring NHS111 patients to community pharmacies, NHS England said. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to a wider area, it added.

NHSE England said: 'We know that community pharmacy can help many patients with minor illnesses and that, particularly over winter, GP surgeries are under great pressure.'

The pilot was referred to as the ‘pharmacy connection scheme’ in the NHS Long Term Plan – a major planning document published on Monday (7 January).

The document also announced a £4.5bn cash boost for community care services, although it is unclear as to whether pharmacies will see any of this funding.