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New partnership signals exciting development opportunity for community pharmacists

2 September 2020

New continuing professional development (CPD) for pharmacists, coordinated by Health Education England (HEE) with NHS England and NHS Improvement, will further embed community pharmacy in urgent care pathways and help improve the care of patients presenting with minor illness.

A programme of workshops is being delivered to support community pharmacists in effective patient-facing consultations and clinical assessments for a range of common minor illnesses.

The CPD is being delivered in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE).  Workshops will be rolled out across England from September 2020.

Funded by the Pharmacy Integration Fund, the workshops build on those provided since last October by CPPE to help pharmacists manage patients referred from General Practice and NHS 111 to the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS). 

Pharmacists will have the opportunity to refresh and update their practical clinical assessment and examination skills, including how to carry out an effective remote consultation and communicate more effectively with GPs. They will also learn new ways of working as part of the primary care network multidisciplinary team, and learn how the CPCS sits alongside urgent care, general practice and the wider NHS healthcare system.

The training will be delivered via a combination of online pre-learning and interactive online workshops. It will be facilitated by approved medics including GPs and advanced practitioner trainers.

Professor Sheona MacLeod, interim Director of Education and Quality, Health Education England, said: “HEE is delighted to be working with the RPS, the RCGP and CPPE at this exciting time for the pharmacy workforce. This provision for community pharmacists is a timely and welcome collaboration which supports the development of an expert flexible workforce which can work safely and confidently across care settings, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan.”

Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This new partnership will benefit patients by making greater use of the valuable and extensive clinical skills of community pharmacists, providing faster and convenient access to care for patients and at the same time helping reduce pressure on GPs and other services.”

Paul Bennett, Chief Executive of RPS, said: “Developing community pharmacists to take a greater role in urgent care is part of our drive to ensure pharmacy is at the forefront of healthcare. Our partnerships with HEE and the RCGP in delivering this work demonstrate the commitment from general practice and pharmacy to work together to improve care for patients.”

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Community pharmacists play a vital role in delivering care to patients and are an enormous support to GPs and our teams. The College is pleased to be working with colleagues at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and Health Education England to provide this training to community pharmacists.

“We hope the programme will further strengthen the close working relationship between general practice and pharmacy. As we move into the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for a busy winter and potential second wave of the virus, this will be vital.”

So far more than 2,100 community pharmacists have undertaken CPCS CPD provided by the Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education. Since the service was launched last October, an average of 10,271 patients per week have been referred to the CPCS for a booked consultation with a pharmacist following a call to NHS 111. These are patients who might otherwise have gone to see a GP.

Further information is available on the RPS website here: https://www.rpharms.com/events/cpcs-events

Details are also on the CPPE website here:- https://www.cppe.ac.uk/gateway/cpcs