Community pharmacies can expect to receive more referrals from NHS 111 for the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS) after a review of the NHS Pathway algorithms, PSNC has said.

The review, completed by integrated urgent care clinicians and pharmacists, resulted in three minor illness symptoms being added to the list to refer to the CPCS from NHS 111.

PSNC said that though the volume of referrals to pharmacies would be dependent on overall NHS 111 call volumes, that contractors could expect an additional 275,000 referrals annually based on 2021 volumes.

The negotiator said: ‘The changes introduce three new condition types (scratches and grazes, teething, sinusitis) and incorporate general health information requests.

‘Referrals will also be made for some conditions which are already well managed by the CPCS, but that have been previously triaged as having higher acuity requirements depending on the patient’s declared history, e.g. diarrhoea, vomiting, bites and stings, cough, cold and flu, constipation, skin rash, sticky or watery eyes.’

PSNC added that there were no planned changes to the service specification as a result of the changes and urged contractors to regularly check their systems for referrals.

It comes after NHS England reported that GP practices were directing patients to pharmacies indirectly, rather than using the CPCS.

It requested that GPs make referrals through the CPCS for minor illnesses, so that patients were guaranteed access to the care they need.

The CPCS was launched in October 2019, initially to only take referrals from NHS 111, but was extended to include GP referrals in November 2020.

In November 2021, the service was extended in some parts of England to include referral from urgent care settings as part of a pilot.