Community pharmacists should be able to refer patients directly to GPs and other healthcare professionals to “strengthen” their role in the NHS, the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) has said.
In its report ‘Overcoming the barriers to self-care’ , published in November 2019, the PAGB — which represents manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines in the UK — recommended “enabling pharmacists to refer directly to other healthcare professionals” as one way to “support a more consistent approach to self-care across England”.
Pharmacists can currently refer patients to a GP, a GP out-of-hours service or hospital emergency department, if they are sent to the pharmacy through the community pharmacy consultation service, which launched in October 2019.
However, patients who self-present at a pharmacy are ineligible for a formal referral to wider NHS services.
The report said: “This inconsistency should be addressed to allow pharmacists to refer any person presenting with symptoms that require escalation, thereby strengthening the role pharmacists can play in the care pathway as the front door to the NHS.”
It highlighted concerns around inadequate signposting between primary care services, which it says can be partly mitigated by implementing “clear referral pathways” between GPs and pharmacists.
The report added this could be “easily achieved” within primary care networks.
“At the moment, GP surgeries hold back a small number of appointments each day for urgent referrals from the NHS 111 service, and a similar approach could be employed to ensure there is capacity for GPs to see urgent referrals that have been triaged/identified by the community pharmacist,” it suggested.
Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal