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Scotland's NHS Pharmacy First set for July launch, CPS announces

The launch date of NHS Pharmacy First was postponed on March 31 due to COVID-19

The new Scottish minor ailments service, NHS Pharmacy First, is set to launch in July, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has announced.

CPS and the Scottish government are planning to launch the service “in eight to 10 weeks’ time”, which is “sometime during July”, CPS CEO Harry McQuillan said in a video update to contractors last week (May 15).

The announcement should give pharmacies time to refresh their knowledge on “advice, referral and treatment as we go forward with the NHS Pharmacy First service” after its planned April launch was postponed, Mr McQuillan said.

The list of approved products that pharmacists will be able to supply under the service is still being formed, but Mr McQuillan said that, in the meantime, contractors should accept their patient medication record (PMR) updates “so that the software is going to be ready” for when the service launches in July.

The next step

Mr McQuillan said a step towards the service was made when the Scottish government and CPS “opened up [the] minor ailment service (MAS) to the whole population earlier during the [COVID-19] pandemic”.

Previously, access to the MAS was restricted to those meeting certain criteria – which includes under-16s, under-19s in full-time education, over-60s, individuals on jobseeker’s allowance and asylum seekers.

NHS Pharmacy First was expected to go live on April 22, but the launch date was postponed on March 31 due to COVID-19.

Under the new service, pharmacists will offer free advice, treatment or supply of medicines – supported by national patient group directions (PGDs) – to patients presenting with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and impetigo.

NHS Pharmacy First will replace the current MAS and the different NHS Pharmacy First pilots.

Is your pharmacy ready for the NHS Pharmacy First service?

Thomas Wilde, Community pharmacist

This shows the difference between the potential futures of the profession. There are a lot of people on here saying the profession is F**ked and we should all quit now, well in Scotland the profession is moving forward and growing. Crucially I think the future is in taking over ground lost by GPs. With the shortage of trained GPs becoming a bigger problem and in a few years is predicted to become a national emergency now is the time for pharmacy to step in and take the minor ailment roles over. An old lecturer of mine told us that if your job can be done by a robot one day it will be, so make sure you offer your patients a service a robot can't. 

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