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

Linda Dodds, Barbra Katusiime, Atif Shamim, Gail Fleming, Trudy Thomas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: 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.Methods: 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.Results: 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.Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere5
JournalPrimary Health Care Research and Development
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s).


  • community pharmacists
  • community pharmacy
  • urgent care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Care Planning


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