Community pharmacies carry out
3.3 million NHS Pharmacy First consultations since launch

Marking the service's second anniversary, Community Pharmacy Scotland said the number of consultations is a "massive achievement".
A patient chats to a pharmacists at a community pharmacy on the Isle of Cumbrae, North Ayrshire, Scotland

Pharmacies in Scotland have carried out more than 3.3 million consultations under the NHS Pharmacy First service as of the end of March 2022, according to government data.

The data, published by Public Health Scotland on 14 June 2022, show that community pharmacies claimed for 3,323,553 consultations since the service launched on 29 July 2020.

Through the service, community pharmacies can offer advice, referrals and treatment to patients presenting with a range of minor conditions, including eczema, hay fever, urinary tract infections and acne.

The data show that 2.8 million (85%) of these claims were made for a consultation that resulted in the dispensing of an item; 368,905 (11%) were claims for a consultation only; and 123,169 (4%) of the claims were for consultations that resulted in a referral to the patient’s GP.

In a statement marking the service’s second anniversary on 29 July 2022, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) said providing more than 3 million consultations was “a massive achievement for our network, especially considering the huge pressures our pharmacy teams are currently experiencing”.

“That’s millions of people in your local communities supported to stay well close to home with expert advice and treatment.”

In a video message to community pharmacists on 28 July 2022, Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at CPS, added that the achievement was “just incredible”.

“It’s something to be celebrated; it’s something to be immensely proud of, and we’ve been working really hard on your behalf to raise awareness of what the network’s been doing for NHS Pharmacy First Scotland,” he said.

In November 2021, shortly after the first anniversary of NHS Pharmacy First, the Scottish government said that 2 million consultations had already been carried out — handling 200,000 appointments which would otherwise have gone to GP surgeries or hospital A&E departments.

At that time, Alison Strath, chief pharmaceutical officer for Scotland, said that work had begun to expand the scheme to potentially include a ‘test and treat’ service for sore throats.

The success of the NHS Pharmacy First service in Scotland prompted former UK health secretary Sajid Javid to announced that he was looking into creating a Pharmacy First service for England in October 2021, with a freedom of information response later inferring that a policy on the service is under development.

Responding to the appointment of Steve Barclay as health secretary after Javid’s resignation, Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, urged Barclay to see a ‘Pharmacy First’ service for England “through to completion”.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, August 2022, Vol 309, No 7964;309(7964)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.152247

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