GP Referral to CPCS (Includes Pharmacy Team and GP Guidance)

Updated 19/07/2023 – pending new update.

From 1st November 2020, the CPCS was extended across England to include referrals from general practices as well as from NHS 111.

GPs can refer patients to community pharmacies to receive a CPCS consultation for minor illness (unlike NHS 111, GPs cannot refer patients for an urgent supply of a medicine or appliance).  From summer 2021 the resources to support GPs in Lincolnshire had been rolled out and we envisaged a gradual increase in referrals as we moved from autumn into winter 2021 and then into 2022.

Pharmacies who are signed up to CPCS are automatically required to do the GP referrals too; contractors cannot choose to only undertake referrals from NHS111.

Back to top

Resources to Support Pharmacy Teams

As well as the training resources above, The CPE website has a range of resources and materials to support pharmacy implementation of GP referral to CPCS. In addition, the materials below are specific to Lincolnshire:

A suggested process to help pharmacy teams manage all CPCS referrals when a locum is in place can be found on the main CPCS page on this website here and can be downloaded in pdf format here:

GPCPCS Not contactable/no show patient process

Some GPCPCS referrals will arrive via PharmOutcomes, if the GP surgery use the relevant IT interface, in which case you follow the same process as you would for 111 CPCS referral for non-attendees: there is a box to indicate ‘patient did not attend’ on PharmOutcomes.

If referrals arrive via email the process is slightly different. As you know, the process agreed in Lincolnshire is that the patient will ring the pharmacy.  However, this may not happen. The patient may walk-in to the pharmacy and say they have been referred from the GP, in which case you would just find the referral on mail BUT there may be patients who do not ring or turn up, the process in that instance is suggested to be as follows:

1. You find the GPCPCS referral when checking your store mailbox or they arrive in PharmOutcomes if an integrated system is used by the GP practice.
2. You attempt to contact the patient up to three times.
3. If you are unable to contact them after three separate attempts then you will need to email back the GP surgery advising them that the patient has not attended, so that they can then follow up.  This ‘closes the loop’ within the system.

Back to top

Resources to Support GP Practices with Implementation

Lincolnshire ICB have agreed  funding until 31st March 2024 for a system that will make referral easier for GP practices (both EMIS & TTP) using EMIS web-based software, known as ITK software.  This financial year those not yet signed up need to follow an approval process via the ICS to get access paid for. If the system is utilised by GP practices, further extensions to this funding will be considered. 

  • Both systems include a triage tool which reduces the number of bouncebacks to general practice and onward referrals to other health providers, ensuring the most appropriate patients are sent to the pharmacy.  The statistics show using bouncebacks are 28% in Lincolnshire but if PharmRefer or EMISWeb (known as the ITK software) are used the rate falls to 5%.
  • With the ITK software, the referral arrives directly in the pharmacy software system ‘PharmOutcomes’ which is beneficial as they system is more frequently checked in pharmacies than and Locums have access to PharmOutcomes but they do not have access to – relying on other team members to access it for them. This reduces the risk of a referral being missed.

Engagement with local surgeries is key to the development of this service. To support this, Community Pharmacy Lincolnshire worked with the LMC to produce a Local Toolkit; this was shared with the PCN Clinical Directors, the Locality Leads and the PCN Managers in Spring 2021.  Some of the contents are available to download below.

Those pharmacies signed up for the service can be found on the Directory of Services (DOS). The initial toolkit included some suggested scripts for front line triage staff and downloadable referral forms, which GP practices should have received directly from their PCN representatives.  We can provide copies of the suggested scripts on request.  Referral guides for both EMIS and SystmOne practices can be found at the links below.

It is important to ensure that you have an up-to-date email address recorded on the Pinnacle system. The pilot sites revealed that if the wrong practice email address is recorded on the system, or if this is missing then you will not receive the confirmation and summary back from the pharmacy once the consultation has been completed.

It is vital to send a test patient to your local pharmacy in the first instance when you decide to start using GPCPCS and liaise with them to ensure the technology is functioning for the entire patient journey.

GP surgeries should request the suggested triage scripts if needed via an email to 

GP Toolkit update April 2022

Guide For System One Practices using PharmRefer.  The interface appearance and process has changed slightly since this video was produced but it is broadly in line with the process.

Guide for System One Practices not using Pharm Refer

Guide for EMIS Practices using local services app

Guide For EMIS Practices not using local services app

A Word version of GP Referral into Pharmacy form can be accessed here.

Back to top