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An investigation into the number and nature of the urgent care consultations managed and referred by community pharmacists in South-East England.

  • Dodds, Linda1
  • Katusiime, Barbra1
  • Shamim, Atif2
  • Fleming, Gail3
  • Thomas, Trudy1
  • 1 Medway School of Pharmacy, Universities of Kent and Greenwich, Chatham MaritimeME4 4TB, UK.
  • 2 London and South East Pharmacy, Health Education England, Crawley Hospital, CrawleyRH11 7DH, UK.
  • 3 Royal Pharmaceutical Society, LondonE1W 1AW, UK.
Published Article
Primary Health Care Research & Development
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Mar 03, 2020
DOI: 10.1017/S1463423620000031
PMID: 32122440


Community pharmacies are recognised as an under-utilised, accessible resource that could support the urgent care agenda. This study aimed to provide a snapshot of the number and nature of urgent care requests presented to a sample of community pharmacies in three counties in southern England, to determine how requests are managed, whether management is appropriate, as assessed by a group of experts, and whether customers receiving the care are satisfied with pharmacists' interventions. A representative sample of pharmacists across the region was invited to keep a log-book documenting all urgent care requests over a two-week period. Data were analysed to estimate frequency and type of requests and to compare consultations in core and non-core hours. Log-book entries were scrutinised blind by an expert panel to determine appropriateness of pharmacist's responses. Customers receiving pharmacists' interventions were surveyed to assess satisfaction. Seventeen pharmacies kept log-books detailing 432 urgent care consultations, equating to 13 consultations per pharmacy per week. Of these, 70% (n = 302) were dealt with by the pharmacist in-house with 30% (n = 130) resulting in referrals. Locum pharmacists were significantly more likely to refer to other NHS services than regular pharmacists. Over half the requests were for symptom management, skin problems presenting most commonly (38% of all symptoms presented). Forty-seven percent of consultations were considered to have 'averted the need for other NHS services'. Pharmacists' referral (but not assessment of urgency) was deemed appropriate by the expert panel in 90% of consultations. Ninety-five percent of customers surveyed were satisfied with the service and would use the pharmacy again. Extrapolating findings across the study population (approximately 4.4 million) suggests that community pharmacists manage over 11 500 urgent care consultations per week, with 8050 managed independently. These prevent approximately 5400 other NHS encounters, while also meeting customer expectations and expert panel endorsement.

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