Inhalers and antidepressants most common NUMSAS items

NHS England data has revealed the number of referrals made through the NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) has more than doubled in the past year – and that antidepressants and asthma medications continue to be the most requested items.  

NUMSAS, which is funded by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, refers patients from NHS 111 to a local community pharmacy so they can obtain an urgent supply of a medicine or appliance they have previously been prescribed.

A letter sent to NUMSAS providers on May 17 revealed there had been 245,096 referrals from December 2016 to February 2019, compared to 72,676 referrals between December 2016 and March 2018.

The letter revealed that approximately 75 per cent of referrals result in patients being supplied the item they requested. The most frequently requested items are ventolin, salbutamol, sertraline and citalopram, in keeping with a report from the previous year.

Items were not supplied in around 25 per cent of cases. In a previous update on the service, NHS England said the most common reason for a ‘no supply’ was that “the pharmacist considered there was no urgent clinical need for the prescription items”.

NHS England said there has been a “continued significant impact” on GP out-of-hours services since NUMSAS was introduced, with NUMSAS accounting for 56 per cent of urgent repeat medication referrals in February 2019 versus 27 per cent for GP OOH.

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