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Leadsom: ‘We want to support you in every way we can’

In an exclusive opinion piece for C+D, pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom thanks community pharmacists for their efforts in making the transition to Pharmacy First as smooth as possible

Today marks the start of an exciting new era for our community pharmacies.


The launch of Pharmacy First means services across the country can now treat patients for seven common conditions without the need for a prescription.


Over 10,000 pharmacies in England have signed up to the scheme, cementing them not only as pillars of our communities, but as pillars of our wider NHS.


Read more: Asda in Pharmacy First locum row over ‘unacceptable’ email


And it comes after thousands of pharmacies have already stepped up to offer more blood pressure checks and contraception consultations, further easing pressure on our GP services and improving experiences for patients.


Taken together, these measures are expected to free up over 10 million GP appointments every year – giving patients quicker and easier access to vital care.


As minister for primary care, I want to thank every one of you for the incredible work you’re undertaking to make this transition work.


And we want to support you in every way we can, which is why we’ve committed up to £645 million to provide the tools you need for a smooth rollout.


Read more: NHSE campaign will ‘encourage public’ to use Pharmacy First from mid-February


We want to make access to care faster, simpler, fairer, and what better way to do that than by bringing more people into local pharmacies to speak with experts on hand to help.


Anyone with sinusitis, a sore throat, earache, an infected insect bite, impetigo (a skin infection that can affect young children), shingles, or uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women, can get help from their local pharmacy from today.


And with around four in five people living within a 20-minute walk of a service, you will be providing convenient access to high-quality care that will change the lives of patients, particularly those who are more vulnerable, with twice as many pharmacies in deprived areas.


Read more: Half of pharmacists warn not enough staff to ‘safely’ provide Pharmacy First


Staff are the backbone of our NHS and, without your dedication, our successes, milestones and achievements wouldn’t be possible.


That is especially the case with Pharmacy First and I know you will continue going above and beyond every day to provide important care when people need it, so thank you.


Andrea Leadsom is the parliamentary undersecretary of state for the DH and the MP for South Northamptonshire 

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