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.

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).

Key points for pharmacy contractors

  • 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 expect general practices across individual PCNs to start to make referrals to the service during the rest of 2020/21, 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 were 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;
  • Pharmacy contractors that are not registered to provide the service can still do so via the NHSBSA Manage Your Service (MYS) portal.

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 during November 2020.

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.

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

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 to support rollout of the referral pathway

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


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