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NHS Somerset aims for 6,000 GP CPCS monthly consultations


NHS Somerset aims for 6,000 GP CPCS monthly consultations

GPs in Somerset have been referring 1,000 patients to pharmacies through the community pharmacist consultation service each month, according to the area’s NHS commissioner.

NHS Somerset confirmed to Independent Community Pharmacist it plans to increase that number to between 4,000 and 6,000 patient consultations a month.

Hitting these targets would buck trends seen elsewhere, with the service reportedly struggling in parts of England due to a lack of referrals to pharmacies.

NHS Somerset said 59 of its 64 GP practices and all of its 102 community pharmacists are using the GP CPCS.

Ed Garvey, a commissioning manager who has been leading the implementation of the service, said “a key component” to its successful introduction has been “getting the technology in place.” NHS Somerset has been using software called Patient Access Connect which integrates with the EMIS Web GP system that is used in the county. 

“The Patient Access Connect software ensures that all the patient information required for the referral is included as part of the closed loop referral process,” he said.

“There is also the option to assess the patient for referral using a clinically designed assessment tool, giving receptionists and practice teams added confidence when they need some reassurance.

“The technology can also select the closest pharmacy available to the patient’s home, sending an SMS to the patient informing them of the referral. 

"In the majority of these minor condition cases, the community pharmacist can provide clinical advice and off the counter products to patients via the consultation. Where this isn’t possible the pharmacist can refer the patient to the GP or other relevant health professional.”

Mr Garvey revealed the software has allowed his team to measure its progress. In the last 12 months, he said, eight per cent of patients referred through the GP CPCS were treated with a patient group direction and 75 per cent of all referrals on average were given advice and/or medication. Garvey said a further eight per cent “had their case escalated following the consultation.” 

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