Pharmacy First launches across England today

The much-anticipated Pharmacy First service has launched today (Wednesday 31st January 2024) following weeks of intense preparation across the community pharmacy sector.

Pharmacy owners and teams have been working incredibly hard to get ready for this, at an already difficult time. We have been pleased to see the sign-up rate for the service getting so high – some 96% of pharmacies will start offering the service today – and to talk to so many of you directly at our webinars and ongoing drop-in support sessions.

We are continuing to add to our bank of resources about the service and it is still not too late to attend one of our drop-in sessions on the service for more support.

We, along with NHS and Government, are not expecting pharmacies to be inundated with patients initially: changing public behaviour takes time and effort, and a slow and steady transition period is likely.

Community pharmacists are already very familiar with providing minor illness and urgent supply of medicines consultations, which have transferred from the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service into Pharmacy First. They are also used to patients walking in seeking healthcare advice such as on the seven clinical pathway conditions and the service has been designed to be a natural extension of that role, bringing in much-needed additional funding.

Commenting on the launch of the service Janet Morrison, CEO, Community Pharmacy England said:

“The launch of Pharmacy First marks a big step for community pharmacies, patients, and the public. We are pleased to finally have reached this stage and know the hard work that has gone into it across the entire sector: this work will continue now to ensure that Pharmacy First is a success.

“I don’t doubt that pharmacies will rise to the challenge, but we know that in order for our sector to thrive it should not just end here at Pharmacy First. We’ll continue pushing for financial support to strengthen our sector for the future.

“Over time we expect the public to make full use of this service, but we don’t expect a large number of people to be walking in for Pharmacy First consultations on day one of the service – as getting used to this will take time.”

CPhO and National Medical Director issue letter to sector

Following today’s launch, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer (CPhO) David Webb has published a joint letter to community pharmacy and GP professionals with Dr Claire Fuller, National Medical Director for Primary Care.

The letter thanks colleagues for their vital contribution to patient care and highlights the joint responsibility to work together as an integrated primary care team to ensure the new service works effectively to help people to access NHS care.

Read the NHS England letter about Pharmacy First

Promoting the service to the public

The launch of the service is good news for the sector and we have been working hard to brief the media and others about the service. If any pharmacists are asked to give media interviews about the launch, you may find our Media Lines helpful.

Ahead of the NHS’s public PR campaign, we have released various resources to help pharmacies promote the Pharmacy First service. Download posters, social media tiles, videos, and more.

Further information and support

Have you checked out our Pharmacy First FAQs?

Read our recent comment on concerns over the implementation of Pharmacy First

Visit our Pharmacy First webpage

Support the call for more funding by recording information about the informal advice you provide to patients over just one day.

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