Pharmacy First start date confirmed as 31st Jan

The Pharmacy First service will commence next week on Wednesday 31st January 2024.

When the service was first announced last year, a caveat was applied to the start date, as there was a significant amount of IT development work to be undertaken within community pharmacy, general practice and NHS IT systems.

IT system suppliers and NHS England digital teams have been working hard over the last two months to get the IT ready for launch on 31st January and following a stocktake on progress the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England have agreed that the service can commence, as planned.

NHS England has written to community pharmacies and general practices today, confirming the start date and providing an update on the service.

Read the NHS England letter

On 31st January, pharmacy teams will have access to a new Pharmacy First IT module within their chosen clinical services IT system.

This will allow them to make the necessary clinical records for the consultations provided as part of the service and to send the necessary data for payment and monitoring purposes to the NHSBSA via an application programming interface (API).

The systems will also send post-event messages to the patient’s general practice, via NHSmail, as is currently the case for the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

During February 2024, the functionality in pharmacy and GP IT systems will be enhanced to allow structured post-event data to be sent to the GP system, meaning practice staff will be able to review the pharmacy consultation information and add the data to the patient record with one click of a button.

All pharmacies already have access to patient records via the National Care Record Service (formerly known as the Summary Care Record). Within a few weeks of launch, it is expected that enhanced access to GP records will be provided via GP Connect Access Record functionality being added to pharmacy clinical services IT systems.

If pharmacies have not got an otoscope to use within the acute otitis media (AOM) clinical pathway, they can start to provide the service on 31st January, excluding the AOM clinical pathway, as long as an order for an otoscope has been placed and they are awaiting delivery.

All pharmacies providing the service (excluding distance selling pharmacies, which cannot provide the AOM pathway) must have an otoscope from 1st April 2024, with all clinical pathways being provided.

The CPCS will cease to be commissioned from 23:59 on 30th January, with the two elements of the service being subsumed into the Pharmacy First service the following day.

Commenting on the announcement, Janet Morrison, CEO, Community Pharmacy England said:

“It is good news that the Pharmacy First service will be able to commence as planned on 31st January: pharmacy owners and teams have been working incredibly hard to get ready for this and for pharmacy businesses there is a critical need to get this additional funding flowing. We know that implementation has been and will continue to be a challenge, and there will still be more work to do ahead of next week and as the service is implemented.

“We are clear that the NHS cannot launch new services without appropriate IT being in place, so it has been good to see the collaborative effort to get this ready pay off, and we look forward to the ongoing improvements to systems that will roll out through February. We will of course be monitoring the launch and roll out of the service carefully over the coming months and beyond.

“While we don’t expect a large number of people to be walking in for Pharmacy First consultations on day one of the service – as behaviour change takes time and effort to bring about – January 31st will be a significant and historic day for community pharmacy. Pharmacy First represents the first significant investment in the sector for many years and will put us on a stronger footing for the future.”

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

Visit our Pharmacy First webpage

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