More conditions to be added to NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service

Two new patient group directions are to be added to the Pharmacy First service, allowing pharmacists to treat patients with shingles and skin infections.
NHS pharmacy sign

Two further common clinical conditions are to be added to the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service, which allows community pharmacies to offer treatment to patients presenting with certain minor conditions.

Uncomplicated urinary tract infections and impetigo are already included in the Pharmacy First service and, from 15 June 2021, two new patient group directions (PGDs) supporting shingles and skin infections will be added to the programme.

The national PGDs — which permit the supply of prescription-only medicines to certain groups of patients without individual prescriptions — will authorise pharmacists delivering the Pharmacy First service to supply aciclovir for the treatment of shingles and flucloxacillin for the treatment of skin infections to patients aged 18 years and over who meet the criteria for inclusion.

An NHS Circular sent on 24 May 2021 and signed by Alison Strath, interim chief pharmaceutical officer in Scotland, explained that some health boards already include shingles and skin infections in local pharmacy services; however, the expectation is that the national NHS Pharmacy First Scotland arrangements will replace those local services.

The circular instructs pharmacy contractors to ensure that their pharmacists have completed e-learning modules for both skin infections and shingles.

Adam Osprey, policy and development pharmacist at Community Pharmacy Scotland, which represents community pharmacy owners and their teams throughout Scotland, said he was “delighted” to see the launch of the two PGDs to support consultations for suspected minor skin infections and shingles.

“Having these in place means that more and more episodes of care can be completed in a single consultation within the community pharmacy, effectively reducing onward referrals and improving the patient journey and experience,” he said.

“Along with our Scottish government and NHS colleagues, we are committed to further expanding the tools that our pharmacy teams have at their disposal. Doing this nationally streamlines delivery but, importantly, makes it simpler to articulate what it is that community pharmacy can do for the people of Scotland — as well as helping with the education and training of the rest of the multidisciplinary team, which is essential for effective two-way signposting and referral so that people can see the right professional in the right setting, at the right time.”

What is NHS Pharmacy First?

NHS Pharmacy First was launched across Scotland on 29 July 2020, after being postponed from its original start date of 22 April 2020 to allow pharmacy teams to focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The service replaces Scotland’s minor ailment service, in what Community Pharmacy Scotland described as “the biggest change to the community pharmacy contractual framework in recent years”.

In July 2020, the Scottish government announced that, from 1 October 2020, pharmacies offering the NHS Pharmacy First scheme would receive a base payment of £1,250 per month and then be paid per activity, with equal weight given to advice, referrals and medicines supplied after a Pharmacy First consultation.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, May 2021, Vol 306, No 7949;306(7949)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2021.1.87517

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