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Revealed: Cough and flu among top 10 CPCS symptoms

NHS England: More than 5,500 patients with cough symptoms have received CPCS referrals so far
NHS England: More than 5,500 patients with cough symptoms have received CPCS referrals so far

More than 9,000 patients with cough, cold and flu symptoms have received an NHS 111 referral to pharmacy since CPCS launched, NHS England figures have shown.

The list of the top 10 symptoms that generate Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) referrals was presented by Ed Waller, NHS England director of primary care, at the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies conference last week (January 23).

The list also showed that since the service was introduced in October last year, more than 3,000 people with “sore throat and/or hoarse voice” were directed to community pharmacy through a CPCS referral, while 2,618 referrals were for “skin problems”.

More than 1,100 referrals were issued for “eye or eyelid problems” and “diarrhoea” respectively, according to the list. Pharmacies received a lower number of referrals for “vomiting and/or nausea” (1,052), “headache” (926) and “lower back pain” (861).

More than 8,600 patients were referred to a pharmacy for “other reasons” than those reported above, according to the data. These could include allergic reactions, blisters or earache, which fall into the category of symptoms that should be referred to community pharmacy, according to the CPCS service specification.

“If CPCS is successful”, NHS England will think about “whether or not we should extend the number of symptoms and potential minor illness categories”, Mr Waller added.

A total of 132,922 referrals have been issued through the CPCS, of which 58,768 were for minor illnesses and 74,154 were requests for urgent medicine supplies, Mr Waller said.

Watch Andre Yeung, one of the architects behind the pilot that inspired the CPCS, answer pharmacists’ questions about the service in C+D's webinar from December last year (skip to 8.45 minutes for the start of​ the Q&A):

How does your experience of CPCS compare to NHS England's data?
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