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Suspected cancer referral scheme rolled out across UK pharmacies

Health & NHS news

Suspected cancer referral scheme rolled out across UK pharmacies

Alliance Healthcare is making its Not Normal for You cancer symptom referral scheme available to pharmacies nationwide following its successful launch across the Alphega Pharmacy network in October 2023.

The rollout, which enables pharmacists to refer patients showing potential cancer symptoms to their GP, will be supported by marketing materials including leaflets and referral cards.

The Not Normal for You programme was originally devised by Alphega Pharmacy member Jackie Lewis (pictured), owner of Lewis Pharmacy in Exmouth. Through the scheme, pharmacy teams are trained to spot potential early symptoms of cancer and encourage individuals to visit their GP. Symptoms are written on the back of a Not Normal for You referral card, which can be presented to the GP.

The brightly coloured orange card acts as a prompt for patients to book an appointment with their GP, further increasing the likelihood of diagnosis after potential symptoms have been identified, says Alliance.

Jackie Lewis first rolled out the scheme to 10 pharmacies across East Devon after she was awarded £10,000 from the NPA’s Health Education Forum. A further grant from Bristol Myers Squibb enabled the project to be upscaled.

She has also developed a free online training programme called Let’s Communicate Cancer, which aims to educate pharmacy teams about cancer symptoms using videos and quizzes. The resource is hosted on the British Oncology Pharmacy Association and NPA websites.

More information about the scheme and how to participate can be found at:

“The timely detection of cancer is incredibly important and I would encourage pharmacies across the UK to participate in the scheme,” said Jackie Lewis, an Independent Pharmacy Awards winner in 2020. “By equipping frontline healthcare providers with the tools to recognise potential symptoms, lives can be saved through early treatment.”

Mandeep Mudhar, head of Alphega Pharmacy UK, added: “The Not Normal for You scheme has been positively received by Alphega Pharmacy members and engagement continues to increase. Jackie has worked tirelessly to increase awareness and empower pharmacists to have more agency when supporting their patients.”

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