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Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) referrals to NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) pilot

This pilot will run from 1 November 2021 to 30 September 2022.

The NHS CPCS was made an Advanced Service from 29 October 2019, with the expectation that additional strands to the service would continue to be tested and developed in the future.

We're now looking to pilot the extension of the service to cover referral into NHS CPCS from additional Urgent and Emergency Care (UEC) settings. This includes Emergency Departments (EDs), Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) and Accident and Emergency Departments. 

This service is expected to relieve pressure on urgent and emergency care by referring patients to a consultation with a community pharmacist where they would usually have attended a:

  • GP appointment
  • GP out of hours (GPOOH) appointment
  • a UTC or ED department, due to running out of regular medicines or requiring support with low acuity or minor illness

The service is also expected to 

  • help tackle elements of existing health inequalities by providing urgent access to patients who are not registered with a GP
  • ease pressure on UEC through the coming winter period supporting the UEC Ten Point Plan to manage low acuity activity

An evaluation of the service will be done by using quantitative and qualitative measures, including:

  • service user experience
  • the experience of pharmacy staff, primary care staff and urgent and emergency care professionals

Aims of the service

The aims of the service are to:

  • test referral routes for patients with low acuity minor illnesses and Urgent Repeat Medicines Supply requests from UEC settings to community pharmacies (CPs).
  • describe the required system reassurance regarding the referral route from UEC settings to CPs encompassing clinical, operational, and digital processes.

Objectives of the service

The objectives of the service are to:

  • test referral routes into the NHS CPCS from UECs and understand the impact of referrals on both EDs and CPs to inform future rollout plans
  • understand the opportunity and amount of people in this area with low acuity conditions that can be treated within a CP
  • understand and record the clinical governance considerations for establishing a referral route for low acuity conditions from UECs (higher acuity care) to CPs (lower acuity care)
  • undertake quantitative and qualitative evaluation including patient experience and the experience of community pharmacy and UEC teams

This service will be piloted in selected pharmacies. These are:

  • Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG
  • East and West Sussex CCGs
  • Kent and Medway CCG
  • Coventry and Warwickshire CCG
  • Blackpool CCG, Fylde and Wyre CCG
  • Bury CCG
  • Wakefield CCG
  • Northumberland, North Tyneside and Gateshead CCGs
  • Tameside and Glossop CCG

Contractors eligible to take part in this pilot will be contacted by their NHS England and Improvement (NHSEI) regional team.

You can view the Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Service Specification (PDF: 348KB) for more information on the pilot testing referrals from additional Emergency and Urgent care settings to NHS CPCS.

What the service will provide

The service is a piloted extension to the NHS CPCS.

Pharmacies will receive referrals to the NHS CPCS from the identified additional UEC settings in the pilot areas. These referrals will be made by NHS mail or ITK-standard message direct to the NHS CPCS IT system.

Once received in the pharmacy, the referral will be actioned in the same way as other referrals received from either the 111 or general practice referral pathways for the NHS CPCS.

The service will enable patients with low acuity minor illnesses and requests for urgent repeat medication supplies to be referred to the NHS CPCS in the community pharmacy taking part in the pilot, from the Additional UEC settings within the pilot locations.

Eligibility for Pharmacy Contractors to provide the service

Pharmacy contractors can register for these services if they're:

  • intending to provide the service between 15 November 2021, or commencement of the pilot activity, and 30 June 2022
  • compliant with the Essential Services elements of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF)
  • in good standing with NHSEI
  • located within one of the agreed pilot footprints
  • invited by email to participate by the NHSEI regional teams
  • registered to provide the service with us
  • able to comply with all the elements described in the service specification
  • able to offer face to face appointments inside a confidential consultation room that complies with relevant General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) standards, this includes distance selling pharmacies
  • willing to work with NHS England and NHS Improvement and the Pharmacy Integration team and are committed to providing evaluation data as well as participating in evaluation interviews if required
  • registered for the NHS CPCS and have consultation completion rate above 60% for 111 minor illness referrals as part of this service           
  • employed at a community pharmacy participating in the pilot and have undertaken the CPCS training via RPS or RCGP, or are registered to undertake the training in the near future

Register for this service

Remote live video consultations are also 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 comply with the principles defined in the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.

If the pilot is extended, pharmacy contractors will continue to provide this service unless they opt out. An opt out process will be detailed in the run-up to the extension. This does not prevent pharmacists from opting out earlier.

You must register your pharmacy’s details with NHSEI. This is an online signup, there’s no need to return a signed SLA to NHSEI.