CPCS – GP referral pathway

CPCS – GP referral pathway

From 1st November 2020, the CPCS was extended across England to include referrals from general practices as well as from NHS 111.

Once preparatory work has been undertaken at a local level, GPs can 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).

Click on a heading below for further information.

Key points for pharmacy contractors

  • Pharmacies which were already registered to provide CPCS did 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 expect general practices across individual PCNs to start to make referrals to the service during 2021/22, once the preparatory work has been undertaken at a local level;
  • Your LPC will support contractors to get involved in the roll out of the GP referral pathway into the CPCS. Work to support the rollout is 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;
  • Pharmacy teams can support this local preparatory work by using any local relationships they have with general practices to support LPC and NHSE&I efforts to engage practices in discussions about the rollout of the referral pathway. Where a local general practice indicates interest in rolling out the pathway, pass this information to your LPC, so this can be followed up;
  • Pharmacy contractors that are not registered to provide the service can still do so via the NHSBSA Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.

How pharmacies can prepare

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.

Contractors can use the below action plan template to guide their teams through the tasks necessary to implement the referral pathway in the pharmacy. Additional actions can be added, as necessary, to meet the needs of the pharmacy team and the local situation.

GP referral pathway to the CPCS – Action Plan template for pharmacy teams (Word)

GP referral pathway to the CPCS – Action Plan template for pharmacy teams (PDF)

Frequently Asked Questions (primarily for general practice teams)

Further resources to support general practices and PCNs with the rollout of the pathway are available on the FutureNHS Collaboration Platform.

Contractors registered to provide the CPCS could claim a £300 engagement and setup payment if they undertook a range of actions to get ready for rolling out the referral pathway in their area by 30th June 2021. The requirements that had to be met are detailed in Annex F of the updated service specification.

Background information on the GP referral pathway

At its September 2020 meeting, PSNC agreed proposals that general practice referrals into the CPCS should on 1st November 2020. This decision followed negotiations with NHSE&I, who had been running a pilot of the service as part of the Pharmacy Integration Programme.

Watch a video on how the pilot service was implemented in the Avon LPC area

Watch highlights from the Avon LPC video

Read the NHSE&I case study on the pilot in Avon

CPCS – a view from a community pharmacist

CPCS – a view from a practice manager

CPCS – GP referral to NHS Community Pharmacist consultation service – Blackburn with Darwen/Knowsley (case study)

Commenting on the official start of the new referral pathway, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC said:

“The rollout of this new referral pathway will be gradually achieved over the next few months; this is deliberately not a big bang start. However, the official commencement is still a noteworthy event, as we expect this addition to the CPCS to become a community pharmacy service offering which is highly valued by patients and general practice alike.

“The successful rollout of this service will rely on team working, with NHSE&I regional teams providing local leadership and support, with assistance from others, including LPCs.

“The NHS has a significant task to undertake in supporting general practices to engage with the CPCS. Discussions between community pharmacy and general practice within PCNs will also be critical to achieving a successful local rollout. In some cases this may be the first time the two professions have had such discussions, but while there may be challenges to overcome, this referral pathway should create a new foundation of collaboration between general practices and pharmacies, which can be built on in the years ahead.”

Resources for GPs, PCNs, etc.

PSNC has worked with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I), the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the Primary Care Pharmacy Association to produce a briefing note and case study which outlines how the GP referral pathway works and how to implement it in Primary Care Networks and practices.

In late May 2021, RCGP and NHSE&I held a webinar on GP referrals to CPCS, aimed at GPs and their teams:

RCGP/NHSE&I webinar on GP referrals to CPCS

An implementation toolkit available on the dedicated GP CPCS page on Future NHS provides resources and templates to support practice staff and PCNs to implement the service.

PSNC has developed an animation and infographic to help describe the GP referral pathway into the CPCS, primarily aimed at GP practice teams. The animation outlines how referrals work and what pharmacies do with those referrals, as well as the success of NHS 111 referrals into the CPCS. The infographic complements the animation but in a one-page factsheet format.

Watch the animation:

View the infographic: Portrait or Landscape

LPCs and pharmacy teams are encouraged to share the animation with local GP practices, LMCs, PCNs and CCGs to improve understanding and engagement with the GP referral pathway into the CPCS in their areas. You can show the animation at meetings directly from this webpage or, if required, download from the Dropbox folder.

Whilst the full video is only a few minutes long, we have also made some shorter clips of the animation. These can be used to make specific points and gain more traction on social media. You can download these clips via the links below.

On social media, please use the hashtag #GPCPCS. You may also wish to use some of the draft tweets we have created: Tweet templates

If general practices or PCNs want to discuss the rollout of the GP referral pathway into CPCS, they can contact the relevant NHSE&I regional lead via the following email addresses:

London England.Lon-GPCPCS@NHS.net


North Eastengland.ney.pctransformation@nhs.net

South Eastengland.seprimarycaretransformationteam@nhs.net

South Westengland.pharmacysouthwest@nhs.net

North West (Cheshire & Merseyside) – england.CMPharmacy@nhs.net

North West (Greater Manchester) – england.gmtop@nhs.net

North West (Lancashire and South Cumbria) – england.lancsat-pharmacy@nhs.net

East of Englandmlcsu.gpcpcs@nhs.net

Return to the CPCS hub page


Latest Services and Commissioning news

View more Services and Commissioning news >