Explaining the NHS Pharmacy First advanced service
The new NHS Pharmacy First advanced service launched on Wednesday 31 January 2024, as announced in November 2023 while some pharmacies will adapt the scheme by March 2024.
More than 10,000 pharmacies who have registered to deliver the service to date.
Along with expansions to the pharmacy blood pressure checking and contraception services, the Pharmacy First advanced service is in place to save up to 10 million general practice team appointments a year.
Furthermore, the service intends to help patients access quicker and more convenient care, including the supply of appropriate medicines for minor illness.
The Pharmacy First service builds on the previous Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) by enabling community pharmacies to manage patients for seven common conditions, following specific clinical pathways. The overall service consists of three core elements:
- Pharmacy First (clinical pathways) – new element
- Pharmacy First (urgent repeat medicine supply) – previously commissioned as the CPCS.
- Pharmacy First (NHS referrals for minor illness) – previously commissioned as the CPCS.
Understanding the Pharmacy First service
- New advanced service which is optional that will include seven new clinical pathways
- Builds on the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS), which most pharmacies provide – expectation is that most pharmacies will choose to provide the extended Pharmacy First service
- The service will consist of three elements:
- Referrals for minor illness consultations with a pharmacist
- Urgent supply of repeat meds and appliances
- Clinical pathway consultations
Clinical pathway consultations
Involves pharmacists providing advice and NHS-funded treatment, where clinically appropriate for seven common conditions:
7 conditions managed by Pharmacy First service
The seven conditions of the clinical pathway with age range are:
|Acute Otitis Media*
|1 to 17 years
|1 year and over
|Infected insect bites
|1 year and over
|18 years and over
|12 years and over
|5 years and over
|Uncomplicated urinary tract infections
|Women 16-64 years
Development of clinical pathways
The following outlines the development of clinical pathways:
- Multi-professional expert working group to develop robust clinical pathways for each of the 7 conditions
- Adherence to NICE guidelines
- National template for PGDs developed by Specialist Pharmacy Service (SPS)
- Pharmacy Quality Scheme antimicrobial stewardship foundation
- AMR Programme Board Oversight National Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer for England
Patients will have the opportunity to conveniently access the novel component of the clinical pathway either by visiting the pharmacy in person or, when deemed suitable, by engaging in a video consultation.
Furthermore, patients will be granted access to this exceptional service through referrals received 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)
Overall, the Pharmacy First advanced service has been introduced to benefit both patients and staff respectively.