I am delighted that the new NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service launched last Wednesday (July 29). Our focus remains on increasing access to community pharmacy as the first port of call for managing self-limiting illnesses. The new service offers exciting opportunities for pharmacy teams.
The new NHS Pharmacy First service Scotland brings together both the minor ailment service (MAS) and older Pharmacy First pilots to treat two common clinical conditions in pharmacy: uncomplicated UTIs and impetigo. It widens access to everyone who is registered with a GP practice in Scotland, or who lives in Scotland.
The service will be available to individuals not previously covered by the MAS because they are not registered with a GP practice, for example, or because they live in a care setting. It is vital that we provide improved access to pharmaceutical care for these groups.
In designing NHS Pharmacy First Scotland, the expertise of community pharmacists and their teams was fully acknowledged. This is a real opportunity for pharmacy teams to be further recognised as part of the multi-disciplinary primary care team. It lays the foundation for the development of foundation and independent prescribing courses for pharmacists.
Pharmacy teams’ workloads will also be recognised through the new remuneration model we have devised, which is based on the equal weighting of activity around the service elements of advice, treatment and referral.
I have been so impressed and proud of the way our pharmacies have responded to the pressures of COVID-19.
As we move forward through the Scottish government’s route map and out of the COVID-19 crisis, we need to make sure people get the right care they need in the right place. We must ensure that people understand the benefits to them of attending their pharmacy – and the benefits to the wider NHS.
NHS Pharmacy First Scotland has been designed very much in partnership with Community Pharmacy Scotland as well as health boards to ensure it fits with other local services.
We are encouraging pharmacies and their local GP surgeries to engage in discussion to develop ways of working that take local needs into account, while ensuring a safe and efficient patient journey.
We will of course monitor progress and will be looking for feedback, particularly in the first few months. We are also carefully considering which other common clinical conditions can be added in the near future to develop the service to further support the NHS.
This is a progressive step for community pharmacy in Scotland and one I am delighted to see come to fruition. I am in no doubt that pharmacists’ contribution will continue to evolve further and help shape the direction of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland.
Rose Marie Parr is chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland