PATIENTS in Darwen could be referred directly to community pharmacy without seeing a medical professional.

As part of the National Pharmacy Integration Fund Programme, Lancashire and South Cumbria were invited to pilot a Digital Minor Illness Referral Service (DMIRS).

The scheme aims to reduce the burden on GPs, urgent and emergency care services by electronically referring patients requiring simple advice and treatment from general practice to community pharmacy.

Bosses hope that through the scheme, patients will have access to the same if not better levels of care, closer to home and with a self-care emphasis.

Darwen primary care network, which is made up of Hollins Grove surgery, Darwen Healthcare, Darwen Health Link and Spring-Fenisco Healthlink, was one of only two successful applicants chosen to pilot the scheme with community pharmacies.

Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group primary care commissioning lead, Peter Sellars, said: "First meetings have taken place with an intention to go live with the pilot from July."

NHS England bosses say previous pilots have shown good progress with patients consistently referred and reporting high satisfaction rates.

Patients will be referred by NHS 111, following an assessment by a call advisor.