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Pharmacy First service can be delivered remotely 'where safe to do so'

The new Pharmacy First service can be delivered remotely “where it is safe to do so”, the government, pharmacy negotiator and commissioner have told contractors.

NHS England (NHSE) yesterday (November 16) announced the long-awaited details of its primary care recovery plan reforms – including launching the new Pharmacy First service from “early next year”.

Under the new advanced service, which the negotiator said will launch on January 31 subject to IT systems being ready, patients will be able to get treatment for seven common conditions directly from a pharmacy without the need for a GP appointment or prescription.

The conditions covered by the service are sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women.

Read more: Launch dates announced for Pharmacy First and contraception services

In a joint letter to contractors published yesterday, Community Pharmacy England (CPE), NHSE and the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) said that the Pharmacy First service “can be delivered remotely where it is safe to do so”.

It added that pharmacies must put “suitable safeguards” in place so that “face-to-face clinical assessment can be provided in person” or by “good-quality video consultation” when needed.


DSP delivery


The letter also set out that distance selling pharmacies (DSPs) “will be able to provide the service” for six out of seven of the conditions it covers.

They will not be able to provide the earache pathway, which CPE said was “because of the need to do an otoscope examination”.

Read more: Pharmacy First funding breakdown: Upfront, monthly and consultation fees

And CPE said that the service was “all or nothing”, with DSPs required to provide all six conditions except earache and bricks-and-mortar pharmacies required to provide all seven if they sign up to deliver the service.

The negotiator also set out that DSPs will only be able to provide the six clinical pathways through video consultations.

Read more: CPCS to be ‘replaced’ by Pharmacy First service from February

DSPs will not be able to provide Pharmacy First clinical pathways “on their pharmacy premises”, the joint letter added.

This is because of the “links with the support for self-care essential service” and “the restrictions regarding the provision of essential services” as set out in pharmacy regulations, it said.

Read more: ‘Huge vote of confidence’: Sector reacts to the primary care recovery plan details

CPE, NHSE and the DH will “jointly” consider terms of service and their application to DSPs “more broadly” in autumn 2023, according to the letter.

Yesterday’s announcement also included the expansion of the pharmacy contraception and blood pressure check services from next month.

Check the C+D site for the latest coverage on this developing story

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