The GP referral arm of the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service has got off to an “incredibly disappointing” start, PSNC chief Simon Dukes has said.
Since November 1, GPs have been able to refer patients to pharmacies for minor ailments queries using the CPCS. However, Mr Dukes said in a February 26 blog post, “only a trickle” of patients are being referred by surgeries using the official channel.
He commented: “There are actually only a few dozen practices even signed up to make referrals into the CPCS. This is incredibly disappointing.”
Mr Dukes, who previously spoke of his concerns that GPs are bypassing the CPCS when referring patients, said this means pharmacies are carrying out a vast amount of advice services without receiving proper remuneration.
He said: “Hundreds of thousands of patients every day are walking into their local pharmacy to seek the advice, guidance and clinical expertise of the pharmacist and the pharmacy team.
“Many of them do so because they have been unable to access other primary care providers, or (in most cases) because they prefer the efficient and convenient service that community pharmacy provides.
“But these consultations are unremunerated, leaving many pharmacists to work far more hours than a junior doctor and well beyond the hours outlawed in the Factory Act of 1833 merely to keep their businesses afloat.”
Taking aim at what he called “silence of NHS England & Improvement,” Mr Dukes called on the health service to make it mandatory for GPs to “formally refer patients to their local pharmacies”.
NHSE&I must also “help influence Government on our behalf to pay the COVID costs we are owed,” he said.
He said: “The NHS needs to go on the record to say that every local pharmacy has value to its community. And the NHS needs to remunerate pharmacists for every walk-in patient requiring a consultation.”
“NHS community pharmacies want to be able to continue to offer the informal face-to-face healthcare advice and clinical services that so many people want from them – but they need the support of the NHS to do so.”