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Revealed: ‘Over 90%’ of pharmacies signed up to deliver Pharmacy First

Pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom has revealed that almost all community pharmacies are set to deliver the upcoming Pharmacy First service.  

The majority of England’s community pharmacies will offer the Pharmacy First service from next month, pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom announced yesterday (January 15).

She said that “over 90% of community pharmacies have now signed up to deliver the service”.

Ms Leadsom revealed the figure after Labour MP for York Central Rachael Maskell asked what “recent progress has been made on the implementation of the Pharmacy First service”.

The pharmacy minister reiterated that the service, which will allow pharmacies to treat seven common conditions without the need for a GP appointment or prescription, “will launch in early 2024”.

Previously, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) had said that pharmacies can “start providing” the Pharmacy First service officially from February 1 2024.

C+D approached the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) to confirm the exact percentage of pharmacies set to run the service.


“Financial necessity”


It comes as C+D yesterday (January 15) revealed National Pharmacy Association (NPA) chair Nick Kaye’s prediction that the sector’s financial woes would push most pharmacies to sign up to the service.

Mr Kaye told C+D that he believes pharmacists “will engage [with Pharmacy First] through financial necessity” because general funding for the sector is “so bad”.

In his exclusive interview with C+D, Mr Kaye also warned that funding intended for the upcoming Pharmacy First service could be sucked into the “black hole of core funding”.

Meanwhile, community pharmacists told C+D this month that they were ramping up preparations for the new service ahead of the launch next month.

Superdrug’s pharmacy superintendent Niamh McMillan told C+D last week (January 4) that “due to the short timescale of the service launch”, the multiple has had to “accelerate the sourcing and delivery” of training.

And owner of Lewis Grove Pharmacy in London, Salim Jetha, told C+D that while the service specification presented “all sorts of challenges”, he was excited for community pharmacy to be “recognised as an integral part of public health”.

But he said that he has already fielded “several requests from patients and even from NHS 111” referring patients before the launch date thanks to the “publicity” around the service.

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