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GPs to refer patients to community pharmacies under new scheme

NHS England will launch a pilot that will see GPs refer patients directly to a community pharmacy later this year.

The commissioning body is working with local practices, pharmacies and commissioners on the pilot, which will run in sites across England supported by cash from the Pharmacy Integration Fund.

The pilot follows on from the success of pilots referring NHS 111 patients to community pharmacies, NHS England said. If successful, the scheme will be rolled out to a wider area, it added.

NHS England said: ‘We know that community pharmacy can help many patients with minor illnesses and that, particularly over winter, GP surgeries are under great pressure.’

The pilot was referred to as the ‘pharmacy connection scheme’ in the NHS long-term plan – the 10-year planning document published on Monday this week.

The document also announced a £4.5bn cash boost for primary care and community services.

The plan will see GP practices mandated to join networks of 30-50,000 patients, which will be aligned with community multidisciplinary teams.

A version of this story was first reported by Pulse sister title The Pharmacist.