Following a successful initial pilot in the North East, NHS England is extending the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service pilot to London, Devon and the East Midlands, reports PSNC.

Part of a Pharmacy Integration Fund work programme, the service enables NHS 111 call handlers to refer patients requiring advice and/or treatment for low acuity conditions to community pharmacies. The conditions eligible for the service include rashes, constipation, diarrhoea, vaginal discharge, sore eye, mouth ulcer, failed contraception, vomiting, scabies and ear wax.

Over 390 pharmacies across Durham, Darlington, Tees, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear are currently taking part and 11,900 referrals have been safely made to community pharmacists. An assessment of the North East scheme found that within the pilot area, minor illness cases being referred to GPs from NHS 111 fell from 70% to 40%.

Andre Yeung, NHS England (Cumbria and the North East) Local Professional Network chair and the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service project manager, blogged about the project on the NHS England website earlier this year. Information on the service specification can be found on the NHS BSA website.

Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC, said: “We are particularly pleased to see that the original pilot has been used as the basis for rolling out this service across other areas. We hope that, in time, it will be made available across the whole of England.”

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