GP referrals to CPCS: essential information for contractors

GP referrals to CPCS: essential information for contractors

October 29, 2020

From 1st November 2020, the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) is being extended across England to include referrals from general practices as well as from NHS 111.

GPs will be able to refer patients to community pharmacies to receive a CPCS consultation for minor illness (unlike NHS 111, GPs cannot refer patients for an urgent supply of a medicine or appliance).

Pharmacies which are already registered to provide CPCS do not need to re-register to receive referrals from GPs, as this is an extension to the existing Advanced service.

General practices can choose whether they want to refer patients to the CPCS and before GPs can make referrals, there must be local discussions to agree how this will work. These discussions will involve pharmacy contractors, the Primary Care Network (PCN) and the member general practices, the NHS and your Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC).

We therefore expect general practices across individual PCNs to start to make referrals to the service over the next few months, once the preparatory work has been undertaken at a local level.

For pharmacies which have participated in the GP CPCS pilot Enhanced service, any referrals from 1st November 2020 will be managed under the Advanced service, rather than the pilot service.

Your LPC will be supporting contractors to get involved in the roll out of the GP referral pathway into the CPCS. At present, preparations to support the rollout are being undertaken by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) regional teams; this involves local planning discussions with LPCs, Clinical Commissioning Groups and other partners that will be able to support the process, including the NHS Time for Care Team.

What you can do now

Further information on how contractors can get involved in supporting the local rollout of the referral pathway will be provided to you in the next few weeks.

You can start to prepare for the local rollout by:

  1. Reading the updated NHS CPCS Toolkit for pharmacy staff, so you understand more about how the pathway will operate;
  2. Reading the updated service specification;
  3. Briefing relevant staff on the changes to CPCS;
  4. Ensuring pharmacists that will provide the service read the updated toolkit and service specification;
  5. Supporting pharmacists to reflect on continuing professional development activity they could undertake to provide the best possible service to patients, which could include undertaking the NHS-funded CPCS training provided by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Any pharmacies that have participated in the GP CPCS pilot, will have the relevant local information on the referral pathway to be able to update their CPCS Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to include the GP referral pathway. Other contractors could start to update their SOP, but some of the locally determined information on referral pathways will not be known until discussions on this have happened within the PCN.

Engagement and setup payment

Contractors registered to provide the CPCS will be able to claim a £300 engagement and setup payment if they undertake a range of actions to get ready for rolling out the referral pathway in their area. The requirements are detailed in Annex F of the updated service specification and further guidance will be issued on this shortly.

Pharmacy contractors that are not registered to provide the service can still do so via the NHSBSA Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.


Visit our CPCS hub page


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