More than a third of pharmacists (34%) think that the Community Pharmacy Consultation Scheme (CPCS) is not fit for purpose.

Of those, nearly half (46%) blamed GPs, who they believe are not using the service to refer patients to community pharmacy, according to a survey conducted on behalf of drug manufacturer Sanofi.

Meanwhile 41% of those who said they don’t think CPCS is fit for purpose said that the fault lies with patients not believing that they will receive the best medical advice if they are directed to a community pharmacist from their GP.

The figures came from a survey of 250 pharmacists in England in carried out by Opinium Research on behalf of Sanofi in June 2022.

They were shared in a report on self-care published by Sanofi, which recommended that NHS England (NHSE) develop a specific communication campaign aimed at the general public, highlighting the importance of self-care, typical examples of illnesses and conditions which can be self-managed, and the professional health advice that pharmacists can offer.

It also said that NHSE should develop a campaign aimed at GPs, reinforcing the importance of encouraging self-care and highlighting the typical ailments that are ‘candidates’ for self-care.

The survey found that 77% of pharmacists would support the development of a National Self-Care Strategy aimed at patients and clinicians.

blueprint for such a strategy was developed in 2021 by PAGB, in partnership with healthcare and pharmacy organisations. Amid ongoing pressures on the NHS, in January pharmacy leaders from across the sector reiterated calls for its adoption.

Asif Aziz OBE, Director of Healthcare at Boots UK, took part in a roundtable hosted by Sanofi to discuss the role of community pharmacy in self-care.

He suggested that attitudes to accessing self-care through community pharmacies were different in Scotland, which has a nationally commissioned Pharmacy First Scheme.

He said that in Scotland ‘people know what services pharmacies can provide. They think “I don’t even need to go to a GP. I’ll go to the pharmacy first. There is a set of conditions for which my pharmacy will take care of me.”’

He also said that that better communication between GPs and pharmacists would help the situation. ‘GPs workload can be eased if we had data flows between pharmacists and GPs – we have to continue to care for the patient holistically end-to-end,’ he said.

In September, The Pharmacist found that CPCS had mixed success one year on from its initiation, with some seeing patient referrals to community pharmacy as “passing the buck”.

A Pharmacy First-style scheme has been proposed in England, but a funding package for the service is yet to be agreed.