Pharmacies in England carry out one million consultations a week

Pharmacies in England carry out one million consultations a week

September 7, 2020

PSNC has today published the findings of the Pharmacy Advice Audit, showing the huge number of informal patient consultations that community pharmacies are carrying out and the positive impact those consultations are having both on patients and other healthcare services.

In June and July 2020 more than 9,400 pharmacies in England took part in PSNC’s audit to try to quantify and explore the informal patient consultations happening in community pharmacy – these are consultations happening outside the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) or any other commissioned services.

Pharmacies recorded their patient consultations over a single day and in total 198,043 patient consultations were recorded. The audit also revealed that:

  • The average staff time per consultation was just over 5 minutes;
  • Around 10% (approx. 20,900) of the consultations were initiated with the non-pharmacist and referred to the pharmacist – this meant for longer total consultation times;
  • Consultations initiated with a pharmacist took an average of 5.3 minutes pharmacist time;
  • Consultations initiated with a non-pharmacist took an average of 4 minutes, with 19% referred to the community pharmacist where on average a further 4.3 minutes was spent with the patient; and
  • Around 75 minutes per day, per pharmacy, is spent providing these consultations.

The audit indicated that during an average week across all English pharmacies over 600,000 consultations are carried out to respond to patients’ symptoms, and nearly 185,000 consultations are carried out where pharmacies give patients additional support for a known medical condition.

During the audit, 92% of consultations resulted in advice being given by the pharmacy team. The pharmacy was able to provide appropriate advice along with the sale of a medicine in 49% of consultations, and appropriate advice alone in 43% of consultations.

Fewer than 10% of the consultations recorded in the audit resulted in patients being referred to their GP, yet 49% of patients said that if the pharmacy had not been there, they would have visited their GP. A further 5.7% would have visited A&E / Walk-in centre which would result in an additional 57,000 appointments per week.

Extrapolating the results of this national audit, taking away pharmacy advice would result in approximately 492,000 additional GP appointments each week, or 65 appointments in each GP practice each week in England.

PSNC Pharmacy Advice Audit – Full Report

PSNC Briefing 027/20: Summary of the findings from PSNC’s Pharmacy Advice Audit

PSNC Chief Executive Simon Dukes said:

“Thank you to all the community pharmacies in England who took part in this national audit. This was an important study providing a snapshot of just one element of the critical work that is going on in pharmacies at the moment, and it has given us some incredibly useful data.

The audit results confirm just how many people value and rely on the accessible healthcare advice that is available from their local community pharmacies. They also show what the impact could be on GPs and hospitals if that pharmacy advice were taken away: it simply would not be manageable for them. Importantly for the sector, the findings start to quantify some of the work that pharmacies are doing that we do not believe is now adequately funded by the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) – this is all part of our case to HM Government for an uplift in that funding.”

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