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NHS 111 pharmacy calls unnecessarily referred to emergency care

By News team

NHS 111 is failing to make the most of community pharmacy expertise, according to Pharmacy Voice.

Speaking after a House of Commons Health Committee hearing into emergency services and emergency care this week (21 May 2013), chief executive of Pharmacy Voice Rob Darracott said: "NHS 111 is significantly under-referring to self-care and community pharmacy support. There is a lack of ‘pharmacy endpoints’ in the algorithms used by NHS 111 call handlers. This means that calls that would have been referred to community pharmacy by NHS Direct under the old system may now be referred unnecessarily to GPs or out-of-hours services or emergency care."

Only 3 per cent of callers to the NHS 111 service up to and including January 2013 were referred to pharmacy, according to the latest statistics from the 16 sites providing the non-emergency health advice telephone line.

The service — which NHS England described as "still fragile in a number of areas" in a recent board paper (PJ Online, 7 May 2013) — is still being rolled out across the country to replace NHS Direct.

Figures show there were 213,059 calls to the 111 service in the first month of this year, with 81 per cent of these calls from people directly dialing 111. On average, 30 per cent of call time was handled by clinical staff for all calls up to and including January.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2013.11121692

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