Pharmacy bodies have reacted positively to the news that over 100,000 patients have already received the community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS).

The CPCS was announced as part of the new English community pharmacy contract in July and launched in October. Pharmacists are paid £14 for each same-day consultation resulting from an NHS 111 referral for minor illnesses or urgent prescriptions.

Community pharmacies in England have delivered 114,000 CPCS consultations within the first 10 weeks of the service launching, it was announced yesterday (13 January).

More than 90% (91%) of community pharmacies have signed up to deliver the ‘pharmacy first’ service so far – 10,610 out of the 11,600 registered in England – which aims to ‘relieve pressure on GPs and A&E’, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.

Pharmacy organisations have welcomed the positive reception that the service has received from the public.

NPA: Pharmacies are ‘indespensible’

National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chief executive Mark Lyonette said: ‘We are pleased that pharmacists, patients and the NHS are already embracing this new and important service, which offers people convenient care from highly skilled health care professionals. 

‘Pharmacies are an indispensable component of the urgent care pathway - the first port of call for advice on minor illnesses as well as a vital support for people with long term medical conditions.’

RPS: Service shows pharmacy’s ‘vital role’

Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) English pharmacy board chair Claire Anderson said:

‘It’s great to see the early data from the start of the CPCS, showing how using pharmacists’ clinical skills can help patients access treatment and support more quickly.

‘The CPCS shows how pharmacy can play a vital role supporting GPs and urgent care. With the positive response from the public and policymakers, we’re looking forward to this service expanding to include referrals from other parts of the health service.

‘It’s also important that pharmacists get the time and support they need to deliver a quality service for patients. Amid growing pressure on the NHS, it’s crucial the Government invests in pharmacy to help people stay healthy and out of hospital.’

PSNC: A ‘fantastic step forward’

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee's (PSNC) director of NHS Services Alastair Buxton said: The CPCS has been a long time coming. But finally, community pharmacists are being asked to use their clinical skills and knowledge to help patients manage minor conditions.

‘The service is a fantastic step forward for community pharmacies: as well as allowing them to put their clinical skills to good use, it gives patients a convenient option for receiving high quality and clinically safe care and advice when they need it, and it helps to relieve some of the pressure on GP practices.

‘The service should help put the sector at the heart of primary care, and we’re delighted that so many pharmacies are already offering this important service: this has not been easy against the backdrop of flat funding, cost pressures, capacity challenges, winter pressures, flu vaccinations and a significant amount of work related to the Pharmacy Quality Scheme this winter.’

CCA: Service has made ‘significant impact’

Company Chemists Association (CCA) chief executive Malcolm Harrison said: ‘We would like to congratulate all of the community pharmacy teams who have been working very hard since the introduction of the CPCS to make it a success for patients, the public and the NHS.

‘The impact of this patient facing service since has been significant since it was launched at the end of October. [The] figures show how community pharmacy is becoming an integral part of the urgent care system. We’d like to continue to build on these great results and further support the primary care and urgent care systems.’