A walk-in consultation service being offered for a limited period in Cornwall’s community pharmacies could have a positive impact on GP referrals, a contractor in the region has said.
Speaking to Pharmacy Network News earlier this week, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly LPC chair Nick Kaye said the CCG-commissioned walk-in service, which began on December 17 and runs until March 31, could encourage surgeries to engage more with the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service.
The LPC has described CPCS uptake by practices in the region as “minimal”.
Patients can be treated for a range of specified self-limiting minor ailments through the service following a discussion with a pharmacist in a private consultation room with no appointment required. Patients with red flag symptoms are referred back to their GP.
Pharmacies receive £14 for every completed consultation recorded via PharmOutcomes.
Mr Kaye told PNN that the service fits well with existing workload in pharmacies: “Yes the consultation is slightly longer, but we’re pretty good in community pharmacy at managing the patients that want to see us.”
He contrasted this with the CPCS, which he said involves “someone telling you what to do and when to do it… it may not take into account the other things you’ve got going on”.
The local CCG has commissioned up to 10,000 consultations through the service. Mr Kaye said: “That’s what we’ve got budgeted for delivery.
“If we hit that, great, if we don’t I’m not too worried – my view was to have more commissioned than we could deliver.”
He said that while there had been some “pushback” from local NHS officials who were concerned the service could “let GP practices off the hook,” he was hopeful “that if pharmacists are hoping to do more services and GPs see the good clinical work, when this gets decommissioned on April 1 they might then think we’ll have to go on using the CPCS more”.
The service has proved popular with patients who access it, he said, revealing that he had completed four walk-in consultations that morning spanning a range of conditions, including one patient who was coughing up blood and had struggled to get a GP appointment for two months.
As of Monday January there had been 235 walk-in consultations, 86 per cent of which resulted in an unnecessary GP appointment being avoided.
Consultations have risen considerably since a media campaign launched, with patient self-referrals doubling.