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Community pharmacy services

GP receptionists to electronically book patients for community pharmacy consultations

The GP2Pharmacy scheme allows GP receptionists to book patients in for consultations at community pharmacies if their condition falls under the locally commissioned minor ailment scheme.

GP receptionist talking to patient

Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee wants to enable community pharmacy appointments to be booked electronically

GP practices will soon be able to electronically book patients for a consultation with their local pharmacist, as part of an ongoing scheme for patient referrals.

The GP2Pharmacy scheme, which launched in South Tyneside in October 2018 sees GP receptionists refer patients to community pharmacy if they have a condition that falls under the locally commissioned minor ailment scheme. Pharmacies are paid £13 per patient consultation.

Some 8,000 pharmacy appointments were made available until the end of September 2019. 

However, Sami Hanna, communications officer for Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said the appointments booking process “is a little bit clunky” at present.

“We’re now looking to implement some IT infrastructure to allow appointments to [be booked] electronically,” he told The Pharmaceutical Journal.

He explained that GP surgeries “will be able to book directly into community pharmacies’ diary system,” which uses EMIS software.

“We’re hoping that once that’s in place, the [referral] numbers will ramp up quite rapidly,” he said.

Hanna was unable to provide data on how many referrals had so far occurred between the 10 practices and 30 pharmacies that participated in the scheme.

“It’s a steady pace of numbers, but it’s not as high as we were hoping,” he said. “We think that once the technology is in place, it will be easier.”

“Where we would like to get to is that the surgery offers the appointment there and then, while the patient is speaking to them, and [the surgery will] just book it straight into the pharmacy,” he said.

The scheme launched before the NHS England piloted GP referrals to community pharmacy through the digital minor illness referral service (DMIRS).

According to the service specification, under the GP DMIRS, practices send electronic messages to pharmacies alerting them of referrals, while patients are told to attend the selected pharmacy “within a set time period”.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20207433

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