Following a successful initial pilot in the North East, NHS England is extending the Digital Minor Illness Referral Service pilot to London, Devon and the East Midlands.

Part of a Pharmacy Integration Fund work programme, the service enables NHS 111 call handlers to refer patients requiring advice and/or treatment for low acuity conditions to community pharmacies. The conditions eligible for the service include rashes, constipation, diarrhoea, vaginal discharge, sore eye, mouth ulcer, failed contraception, vomiting, scabies and earwax.

An assessment of the North East scheme found that within the pilot area, minor illness cases being referred to GPs from NHS 111 fell from 70 per cent to 40 per cent.

Alastair Buxton, director of NHS services at PSNC, said: “We are particularly pleased to see that the original pilot has been used as the basis for rolling out this service across other areas. We hope that, in time, it will be made available across the whole of England.”

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