Launch of Pharmacy First Service
The new NHS Pharmacy First service, launched on 31 January, enables patients across England to access care and treatment without the need to visit their GP.
Published 12 February 2024
The initiative will enable pharmacists to use more of their skills and will free up to 10 million GP appointments a year whilst helping patients to get quicker and more convenient care.
What does the Pharmacy First service offer?
As well as providing existing services like blood pressure checking, contraception and advice on common medical conditions, pharmacies will now be able to assess patients and provide treatment (including antibiotics and antivirals) for seven common conditions, covering:
- sinusitis (ages 12 years and over)
- sore throat (ages 5 years and over)
- earache (ages 1 to 17 years)
- impetigo (ages 1 year and over)
- shingles (ages 18 years and over)
- uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (UTI’s) (ages 16 – 64 years)
- infected insect bites (ages 1 year and over)
How do I know which pharmacies are offering the Pharmacy First service?
More than 10,000 pharmacies have already signed up to Pharmacy First – over 95 per cent of all those in England.
Many pharmacies have late opening hours, making the process of getting medication a lot easier. Four in five people in England can reach a community pharmacy within a 20-minute walk and there are twice as many pharmacies in the most deprived communities, making access to care easier.
How can I access the service?
Patients can access the service without an appointment by walking in to their local pharmacy, or by video consultation (where available). In addition, patients can access the service via referrals from:
- NHS 111 (online, telephone and NHS App)
- integrated urgent care clinical assessment services
- urgent treatment centres
- emergency departments
- general practice (GPs cannot make a referral for urgent repeat medicine supply)
Can I be seen in private?
Most pharmacists have a separate consultation room where you can discuss your concerns in private and undergo an examination if necessary. This means that the pharmacist can recommend the best course of treatment on an individual patient basis including prescriptions for medication if necessary.