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University awarded £2.4m to conduct three-year Pharmacy First evaluation

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has won a multimillion-pound contract to “generate evidence” on the new Pharmacy First service, it has announced.  

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has awarded LSHTM £2.4 million in funding “to evaluate Pharmacy First's take-up, safety, equity, cost effectiveness and acceptability”, the university announced yesterday (February 6).

The university, which specialises in “public and global health research”, said that it will also assess Pharmacy First’s “implications for antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance (AMR)”.

The new service, which launched in England last week, allows pharmacists to treat seven common conditions and supply medicines including antibiotics to patients without them having to first see a GP. 

LSHTM said that its researchers will “work in partnership with experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Universities of Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham” to “generate evidence” on the service.


 “Particular attention” on AMR and GP impact


The announcement revealed that LSHTM assistant professor in AMR Dr Rebecca Glover and professor of health policy Professor Nicholas Mays will co-lead the project.

Dr Glover said she was “delighted to lead this complex three-year Pharmacy First evaluation”.

She added that the team “will pay particular attention to the impact of Pharmacy First on antibiotic prescribing and resistance across the health system”.

The evaluation will also focus on “Pharmacy First's impact on GPs and the wider NHS”, Dr Glover said. 

LSHTM added that by working with co-researchers who are from groups that have been historically marginalised in research and medically underserved communities, the university’s analysis will highlight Pharmacy First’s impact on health inequalities.  


Pharmacy First “not an antibiotic service”


Last month, an NHS England (NHSE) official said that pharmacies could start offering infection diagnostics as part of Pharmacy First in a bid to decrease antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The previous month, NHSE director for pharmacy Ali Sparke said that the sector must “demonstrate that community pharmacy is as adept as other parts of the NHS in managing antimicrobial stewardship,” adding that Pharmacy First is “not an antibiotic service”.

And last year, the service came under attack from a group of scientists who claimed that enabling community pharmacists to treat seven minor illnesses could lead to antibiotic resistance.

Pharmacists hit back at the claims, branding them “disingenuous”.

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