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CPE hits out at GPs for ‘disappointing’ Pharmacy First reaction

The pharmacy negotiator has criticised GPs for their negative reaction to the new Pharmacy First service in England.  

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) this week (February 18) described GPs’ scathing reactions to Pharmacy First as “isolated incidents”.

It said that “concerns about how the service is operating have been raised by some GPs”.

“This is disappointing, but unfortunately is not the first time this has happened,” it added.

The negotiator said that the sector has previously borne criticism “when a new service aimed at taking some of the load off GPs has been launched”.

It stressed that “teething problems are to be expected with any new service – and particularly with one that has gone from announcement to implementation in fewer than 11 weeks”.


“A farce”


CPE’s statement comes after GPs took to X, formally known as Twitter, to voice their complaints about the new Pharmacy First service, which launched at the end of last month

Last week (February 13), Dr Mohamed Kamal said that since the launch, “numerous patients have been directed to visit their GP or call 111 for conditions that Pharmacy First was supposed to address”.

“Regrettably, it seems to be another instance of resources not being utilised as intended”, he added.

And earlier this month (February 6), Dr Helen Salisbury shared her thoughts after meeting her “first patient yesterday who had been through” Pharmacy First. 

“The advice they took away was 'take these antibiotics but I'm not allowed to give you enough, so you'll have to see your GP’”, she said. 

Reacting to the post, another commenter simply branded the service “a farce”.

Dr Steve Taylor said last week (February 14) that the initial gateway points for monthly payments, which only requires pharmacies to carry out one consultation in February, were an issue. 

“The reality is that in the first few months it is not financially incentivised to see a lot of patients” he said, adding that “it’s good for pharmacies, no help for GPs”.

Others criticised the amount that pharmacists are paid for the service. Dr Daniel Mercer last week (February 15) claimed on X that paying “non doctors more than doctors to see undifferentiated medical patients” is “the new vogue”.


“So far, so good”


Last week, new poll data from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) 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.

However, just under a third (31%) of respondents thought that “so far” Pharmacy First had been “harder to implement” than they had expected.

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

Meanwhile, Lord Nick Markham told the House of Lords that “about 3,000” Pharmacy First consultations took place in the first three days of the new service.

“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.

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