Pharmacy First: Information for GP practice teams

Published on: 12th March 2024 | Updated on: 21st May 2024

Introduced on 31st January 2024, the Pharmacy First service builds on the previous Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), which allowed GPs and other settings to electronically refer patients directly to pharmacies for minor illness consultations.

Expanding on the work they had already been doing as part of CPCS, community pharmacists can now supply an NHS medicine, if clinically appropriate, for sinusitis; sore throat; acute otitis media; infected insect bites; impetigo; shingles; and uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women (age restrictions apply), as well as still see patients with other minor illnesses who are electronically referred to them.

The Pharmacy First service is an optional service, but over 95% of pharmacies have signed up to offer it.

The new service is part of a wider expansion of pharmacy services to improve access to healthcare whilst simultaneously reducing pressure on other parts of the NHS. Other recently expanded pharmacy services include the NHS Blood Pressure Check Service for people aged 40 and over, and the Pharmacy Contraception Service.

Animation on how the Pharmacy First service works

About the service

There are three parts to the service:

  1. Minor illness consultations with a pharmacist;
  2. Supply of urgent medicines (and appliances); and
  3. Clinical pathway consultations.

Parts 1 and 2: Minor illness consultations and Supply of urgent medicines (and appliances)

  • General practices can only refer for Minor illness consultations (part 1 of the service); they cannot refer patients for Supply of urgent medicines (and appliances).
  • For minor illness consultations, pharmacies must receive an electronic referral from general practices and other authorised healthcare providers (such as NHS 111, EDs and UTCs).

Part 3: Clinical pathways consultations 

  • The third part of the Pharmacy First service is the Clinical pathway consultations. This involves pharmacists providing advice and NHS-funded treatment, where clinically appropriate, for seven common conditions:
  • This part of the service can be provided to patients electronically referred by general practices, as well as NHS 111 and others.
  • There is a clinical pathway for each of the seven conditions, which identifies when a patient can be treated under the service and when they should be referred to another healthcare professional; this is what the pharmacist will use to decide if the patient is eligible for the service.
  • In the clinical pathway consultation with a pharmacist, people with symptoms suggestive of the seven conditions will be provided with advice and will be supplied, where clinically appropriate, with a prescription-only treatment under a Patient Group Direction (PGD) or in one pathway, an over-the-counter medicine, all at NHS expense.



Promoting the service to your patients

GP practice teams may want to promote the Pharmacy First service to their patients to help increase awareness of the service. We have developed a range of materials which can be used to promote the service to patients.

Our shared folder (link below) allows you to easily download the latest versions of some or all of the following resources:

  • Posters for display e.g. in general practice waiting rooms;
  • Social media tiles and suggested social media posts about Pharmacy First; and
  • Videos and digital screen graphics;

Download here: Pharmacy First promotional resources

Following the launch of NHS England’s ‘Think Pharmacy first’ campaign on 19th February 2024,  their campaign materials are also now available for GP practice teams to use.

Information for GPs and their teams on other pharmacy services

Information for GPs and their teams on other pharmacy services can be found on our Working with GPs page.

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