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Third of pharmacists say Pharmacy First ‘harder to implement’ than expected

New poll data from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has found that almost a third of pharmacists offering the new Pharmacy First service are struggling more than they expected to.  

A new survey has found that almost nine in ten (87%) of 95 NPA members thought that “most or all patients” are satisfied with the new Pharmacy First service, which launched at the end of last month.

However the snapshot poll, which was conducted at the end of the first full week of the service, suggested that pharmacists are feeling less positive about the service. 

The survey results released by the NPA yesterday (February 13) showed that just under a third (31%) of respondents thought that “so far” Pharmacy First had been “harder to implement” than they had expected.

And 70% said they felt “under additional pressure” from the service, according to the NPA. 

The pharmacy body said that to maintain their core pharmacy services, a fifth (20%) of respondents said their pharmacy had to “[schedule] windows of time throughout the day for Pharmacy First consultations”.

But the NPA added that over half (56%) of respondents felt “motivated” by the new service and the same proportion said they would like to offer “more NHS advice and treatment” through the service.

 

“By no means easy”

 

Commenting on the results, NPA chair Nick Kaye said it was “already apparent that pharmacies in England are delivering important benefits though Pharmacy First”.

But he added that the poll “shows that implementing the service is by no means easy”.

He commended NPA members “for their efforts and their agility in making this an initial success, despite the challenges of introducing new processes and managing overall workflow”.

And he stressed that “the excruciating funding situation” was also putting pressure on pharmacies.

Meanwhile, C+D reported last week that “about 3,000” Pharmacy First consultations took place in the first three days of the new service.

Discussing the news in the House of Lords, Lord Markham said that “early indications” from the sector suggested that it had been “managed well”.

“Right now, we feel that it is so far, so good,” he said.

CPE told C+D that the “thousands of consultations taking place in the first few days of the service” was “a clear sign of support” from the public.

But Lord Markham also revealed last week that pharmacies delivering the new Pharmacy First service could be stuck with “not ideal” alternative IT systems for “months” before they have full access to GP software.

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