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NHS 111 refers 66k patients to pharmacy urgent medicines supply service in first year

A pharmacy-led urgent supply service saw more than 66,000 referrals in just over a year, according to NHS England.

NHS 111 made 66,191 referrals to community pharmacies registered to provide the NHS Urgent Medicines Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS) between December 2016 and March 2018, according to an NHS England bulletin.

The 3,857 community pharmacies registered to provide the service as of 28 May dispensed 72,676 items during the same period, NHS England said.

The news comes as primary care minister Steve Brine recently told Parliament that the pilot scheme had saved 38,900 GP appointments between December 2016 and December 2017.

The NUMSAS was commissioned by NHS England in October 2016 with money from the Pharmacy Integration Fund (PhIF).

Controlled drugs accounted for just 3.8% of the items requested by patients using the service, and pharmacists offering NUMSAS can decline to supply the medication requested if they feel the request is inappropriate, NHS England said.

A quarter (18,528) of NUMSAS cases between December 2016 and 2018 were recorded as ‘no supply’. The most common reason for this was that the pharmacist considered there was ‘no urgent clinical need for the prescription items’.

A version of this article first featured on Pulse’s sister title The Pharmacist.

What is the urgent medicines supply service?

The NUMSAS Pilot is a service that manages a referral from NHS 111 to a community pharmacy where a patient has contacted NHS 111 because they need urgent access to a medicine or appliance that they have been previously prescribed on an NHS prescription.

There are currently over 3,800 pharmacies across England participating in this pilot service.

Source: NHS England