Community pharmacy

Community pharmacy including further work on pharmacy

In recent years, the role of community pharmacists has expanded, and they have been able to offer people an increasing range of services. It is important to ensure that the information collected at a community pharmacy can be shared digitally with GP practices, so that different service providers can stay connected and help keep people well in the community; supporting them to manage long-term conditions and minor ailments at home. In 2018 we published a community pharmacy standard, which covered different community services.

NHS Digital successfully led on the implementation of the first section of the standard, which covered flu vaccine information that needs to be shared with a GP. It was originally implemented in Leeds during a pilot phase which involved one community pharmacy supplier, one GP system supplier, 113 community pharmacies and 82 GP practices. Since the pilot, another major pharmacy supplier and one more major GP supplier have adopted the standard. Their systems have been assured (NHS Digital for spine access) and roll out is now happening across the whole country. Information is now shared directly between pharmacy and GP systems, which saves time for GPs and pharmacists, increases accuracy, and improves patient confidence. This is part of a wider NHS England/NHS Digital programme to expand community pharmacy services and bring them more fully into the system.

As well as saving GPs up to five minutes of time per vaccination and decreasing the risk of error, it means patients can be assured that their information is being properly recorded and shared (with their consent). This reduces the chance that they will be accidentally vaccinated more than once or receive multiple calls about booking an appointment.

The standard is also now supporting the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination, which is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at local centres run by GPs and at large vaccination centres. Most vaccinations are taking place at large centres, which are all required to document vaccinations at the point of care, so that the record can be shared directly with GPs. This information is recorded in line with the standard, so that it can be coded in the right way and shared between systems. Most vaccine centres record into the Pinnacle system, with daily reports signed off by each manager, and collected by 2pm each day for a 24-hour period, to ensure the data is always up to date and any concerns can be managed. By sharing information through a system directly with a GP, both vaccination managers and GPs are saved time and the process is made safer for patients.

Meanwhile, NHS England & NHS Improvement commissioned the PRSB last year to update its original pharmacy standards to reflect the growing range of services being offered by community pharmacies. The original standards included information on vaccinations and other services that are being piloted as part of the NHS England & Improvement’s Pharmacy Integration programme, which supports the integration of pharmacy professionals and services across primary care. The latest updates, which were published in April 2021, include services to quit smoking, hypertension testing in the community, contraception services, Hepatitis C testing, sore throat support and palliative care services.