A total of 1,249 patients in the north east were seen by pharmacists rather than in hospitals and urgent care centres in December.

Patients who call NHS 111 with less serious illnesses and injuries are being clinically assessed in pharmacy consultation rooms rather than urgent care centres.

Commissioned by NHS England and funded by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, the Digital Minor Illness Referral – Community Pharmacy Referral Service (CPRS) is a six-month trial scheme that allows NHS 111 operators to refer appropriate non-emergency patients to community pharmacies.

Over 300 local pharmacies across Durham, Darlington, Tees, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear are taking part in the service. The pharmacy receives electronic notification that a patient has been referred and will follow up with the patient if they do not attend the pharmacy within 12 hours of referral.

As of December 31, 2017, around 60 per cent of callers who were referred attended pharmacies and of these:
• 39 per cent received advice and an OTC medicine
• 22 per cent received advice only
• 18 per cent were escalated for ‘in hours’ GP appointments
• 11 per cent were escalated to attend out-of-hours appointment/walk-in centres.

A significant proportion of the calls have been for seasonal cough and cold-type symptoms. Currently less than 1 per cent of NHS 111 calls across England are referred
to a community pharmacy.

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