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‘Massive Achievement’: Pharmacy First service hits 3m consultations

Pharmacists in Scotland have completed “well over” three million consultations under the NHS Pharmacy First Service since its launch two years ago, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has revealed. 

This is a “massive achievement for our network, especially considering the huge pressures our pharmacy teams are currently experiencing”, CPS wrote in a statement published last week (July 28).

“That’s millions of people in your local communities supported to stay well close to home with expert advice and treatment,” it added.

Read more: Scotland funds extra 186 prescribing places after increased demand

Launched in July 2020 after its planned rollout was postponed due to COVID-19, the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service sees pharmacists offer free advice, treatment, or supply of medicines for minor illnesses, supported by national patient group directions (PGDs).


CPS: Evolution of Pharmacy First will take time


In an interview with C+D earlier this year, Scotland’s chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) Alison Strath revealed she wanted to move pharmacies from the NHS Pharmacy First service to NHS Pharmacy First Plus, investing in prescribing training programmes for current pharmacists to allow them to use further clinical skills.

Read more: Alison Strath: Pharmacies could deliver systemic anti-cancer therapies

Pharmacy First Plus allows pharmacists to treat conditions beyond the scope of the standard Pharmacy First scheme, including urinary tract infections and allergies.

Speaking to C+D on Friday (July 29) about the proposed expansion to Pharmacy First, Matt Barclay, the director of operations at CPS, said: “We’re working with partners in the Scottish government, health boards and out-of-hours [providers] to determine what are appropriate areas and therapies we can consider for the expansion.”

While “the challenges the network faces” must be kept in mind, “Pharmacy First, alongside effective medicine supply, is one of the core functions of community pharmacy, so it’s still appropriate to look at the opportunities and to look at how the service should evolve in a planned way”.

Pharmacy First and Pharmacy First Plus “do cross over”, he noted.

Read more: CPS funds PhD spot for pharmacist to study community pharmacy services

“As the prescriber numbers in the [pharmacy] network increase, the confidence and competence of prescribers should increase, then the use of PGDs may naturally reduce”.

Although PGDs “underpin Pharmacy First currently…the evolution of both services will take time,” he acknowledged.

At the right time, CPS “will look at this alongside the Scottish government to work through, as the CPhO indicated earlier this year”, he added.

Meanwhile, Scottish health secretary Humza Yousef confirmed last year that the government was still committed to “establishing a community pharmacy hospital discharge and medicines reconciliation service”, plans for which were first set out in August last year.


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