People who go to Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E department with a minor condition could be referred to a local pharmacy under a new project being piloted in the area.
The pilot has been arranged by NHS England and Improvement following a previous roll-out of a similar scheme that referred patients from GP practices to a community pharmacist, allowing GPs to focus on patients who need to be seen in practice.
That service sees around nine in 10 eligible patients referred from their GP successfully helped by the pharmacist, while a small number may be referred back as a priority to be seen in their GP practice.
Kath Gulson, chief executive of Community Pharmacy Lancashire, said: “We have services very similar to this that have been very successful. With so many people needing access to NHS services it is essential we help direct people to the most appropriate service for their need.
“A lot of people attend urgent care settings because they have forgotten to renew their repeat prescription or have a minor illness symptom, such as eye infections, earaches and itchy skin, for example. This can leave them sitting waiting for a long time while the more severe conditions are prioritised.
“Pharmacists are highly trained experts, and this new service means people will be seen by a pharmacist who can help them straight away.”
Under the scheme, following their initial triage, patients with minor illnesses or who need an urgent supply of medicines can be instantly referred for a consultation with a pharmacist, usually on the same day, either face-to-face or remotely.
The pharmacist provides clinical advice on appropriate treatment or next steps, which may involve the purchase of an over-the-counter medicine. The pharmacy of choice is notified of the referral and sent all relevant details. The patient then either makes their way to the pharmacy for a consultation or calls them on the phone.
If symptoms suggest something more serious, the pharmacist will refer the patient to their GP for an urgent appointment, or to an urgent care setting such as the emergency department.