This pilot will evaluate the implementation of direct referrals by Community Pharmacy to secondary care for people with suspected cancer signs and symptoms. It will start by focusing on testing safety and technical feasibility with a small number of Community Pharmacies. It will then expand to full roll out and data collection to evaluate the benefits of direct referrals from Community Pharmacy for people presenting with suspected cancer symptoms.
NHS England (NHSE) is commissioning this pilot as a Local Pharmacy Enhanced Service. It will run from May 2023 for at least 12 months.
An evaluation of the service will be undertaken; access to pharmacy system data will facilitate robust review and financial appraisal for NHS commissioners. The evaluation will look at the role of community pharmacists in referring individuals with suspected cancer symptoms and carry out an assessment of both patient and pharmacy staff experience.
Service aims and intended outcomes
The aim of this pilot is to test a model whereby community pharmacists directly refer people with suspected cancer symptoms into secondary care. It will also assess the extent to which this service can:
- improve early diagnosis
- reduce health inequalities
- increase patient choice
- support the NHS Long Term Plan’s aims of 75% of cancer patients being diagnosed at Stage 1 or 2
The intended outcomes include:
- establishing the benefits and barriers to community pharmacists making referrals for suspected cancer
- improving access to early diagnosis of cancer symptoms within primary care
- evaluating learning for pharmacists' training and professional development
This pilot will be subject to a full evaluation. Any further development or extension of the pilot will depend on the results of this evaluation.
Register to provide the service
Pharmacy contractors can register for this pilot if they make a self-declaration of readiness to provide the NHS Supporting Early Diagnosis of Cancer (Community Pharmacy) pilot. This will require confirmation that you:
- have read the service specification and can follow all the elements laid out therein
- have read and agree to the Data Processing Agreement (DPA) (PDF: 200KB)
- have read the clinical protocol and understand all the elements laid out therein
- are aware of the escalation process and how to seek Healthcare Professional support if needed
- have access to the NHS e-Referral Service
- have completed the required self-directed online learning associated with the service
You will also need to be:
- compliant with the Essential Services elements of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF)
- in good standing with NHSE
- located within the agreed pilot footprint
- Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership (Greater Manchester Cancer Alliance)
- Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West ICS (Thames Valley Cancer Alliance)
- Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Health and Care Partnership (Peninsula Cancer Alliance)
- invited by email to take part by their local Cancer Alliance
- able to offer face to face appointments in a confidential consultation room that complies with relevant GPhC standards, this includes distance selling pharmacies
You can also only provide this service from a consultation room, unless otherwise agreed with the Commissioner.
Remote live video consultations are allowed for all community pharmacies. When delivering remote consultations, the contractor must make sure staff and people accessing the service can communicate securely and confidentially by live video and audio link. Any contractor providing remote consultations must follow the principles defined in the GPhC guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.
If agreed with the Commissioner, you can deliver the service from a suitable location outside a consultation room. It must follow infection control requirements for coronavirus (COVID-19) and remain confidential.
You must register your pharmacy’s details with NHS England. As this is an online signup, there’s no need to return a signed SLA to NHS England.