Pharmacy First Update: A message from our CEO

Community Pharmacy England CEO Janet Morrison has given a video update on Pharmacy First, addressing some of the concerns that pharmacy owners have, particularly around the thresholds for monthly payments.

In her video message, Janet notes the incredible early achievements of Pharmacy First as well as outlining the importance of the service and how it is expected to develop over time. But she also talks about the challenges of bringing about public behaviour change, and the serious concerns about the increasing payment thresholds.

At its June meeting, the Community Pharmacy England Committee discussed the rollout of Pharmacy First, including the concerns about the thresholds for monthly payments. This critical issue has already been raised with DHSC and NHS England, and a range of possible solutions are being considered.

In the meantime, Community Pharmacy England will continue to troubleshoot problems, update resources, and share best practice to support pharmacy teams. We are also continuing to push NHS England for ongoing marketing of the service – to both the public and other healthcare providers – and we have developed a range of resources to help promote the service to patients and GPs.

View the video message from Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England:

Commenting on Pharmacy First, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“Pharmacy First is a critical service for community pharmacy: it is evidence of the growing recognition of the sector’s integral role in primary care, and it is a major clinical service development upon which others can be built. Community pharmacies have done an amazing job providing the service, despite the very tight implementation timeline and early battles with IT issues.

“Frustratingly, the ability of pharmacy owners to reach the monthly payment thresholds is a major ongoing concern. Pharmacies are reliant on NHS England and the Department to drive people to the service, but following an underwhelming public marketing campaign, we don’t think we are seeing the numbers of walk-ins or referrals needed.

“Many questions remain – including about the full impact of seasonality – and we are working through these at pace with the NHS and Department. During the original negotiations on Pharmacy First we had to argue very strongly for the upfront and monthly payments and we will continue to stress to the new Government just how critical these payments are. It is completely unreasonable to penalise pharmacies financially for the NHS’ failure to drive public and general practice behaviour changes.

“Discussions with the Department and NHS England are ongoing, looking to find solutions, as we all share an objective to make the service a success.”

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