Concerns about Pharmacy First implementation
Pharmacy owners preparing for the Pharmacy First service have raised concerns around workload, funding and other issues.
We have issued the following comment about the sector’s readiness to take on the service.
Fin McCaul, an independent community pharmacy owner, Community Pharmacy England Regional Representative for the North West, Negotiating Team Member and Chair of our Service Development Subcommittee, said:
“We knew from day one that the implementation of Pharmacy First would be challenging for all involved, especially during the busy winter season. But this was the only offer on the negotiating table and all the pharmacy owners on our Committee, many of whom still work in their community pharmacies on a day-to-day basis, felt that we had to make it work. Community pharmacy needed to demonstrate its willingness to help Government meet their objectives to improve access to primary care. The Negotiating Team set about doing everything they could to make the plan workable in the circumstances, achieving significant concessions such as the hard-won £2,000 upfront payment, which can be used to support staff training and other preparations by pharmacy owners. We have also provided extensive resources and webinars to help everyone in the sector to prepare.
However, alongside the NHS and Government, we are not expecting the launch to swamp pharmacies with patients, as changing public behaviour takes time and effort. A slow and steady transition period is much more likely, and the upcoming NHS marketing campaign will aim to make inroads into that, whilst being solely focused on the seven conditions. Much more importantly, most pharmacies will already be offering much of the advice and support covered by the Pharmacy First service, but now they will get paid to provide it, helping to get that vital funding flowing into pharmacies.
With this service, the Government and NHS are not only starting to recognise the value of pharmacy in their ambitions to improve access to primary care, but also to understand the need to appropriately fund our expertise. We will be using this as leverage in the CPCF negotiations for 2024/25, stressing the need for core pharmacy funding to cover the spiralling costs and wider pressures that are crippling so many pharmacy businesses and putting strain on those who work in them.”
This was also quoted in The Times: What new powers will pharmacies be given in the UK?