More than 125,000 Pharmacy First consultations delivered in its first month

Pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom also confirmed that monthly data on the number of Pharmacy First consultations will be published from May 2024.
Photo of pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom

Community pharmacies carried out more than 125,000 Pharmacy First consultations in February 2024, pharmacy minister Andrea Leadsom has said.

The Pharmacy First service, which launched on 31 January 2024, provides treatment in community pharmacies of seven common conditions, and offers community pharmacies payments of £1,000 per month plus a £15 fee per consultation.

Leadsom confirmed the consultation numbers on 18 April 2024 in an answer to a written parliamentary question from former pharmacy minister Neil O’Brien, Conservative MP for Harborough.

She also said the NHS Business Services Authority will publish monthly data on the number of consultations delivered from May 2024.

NHS England set an ambition for community pharmacies to deliver at least 320,000 Pharmacy First consultations each month by March 2025.

The target is included in the updated ‘Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care’, which was published on 9 April 2024, following the original publication of the two-year plan in May 2023.

Responding to another written parliamentary question from Rachael Maskell, Labour MP for York Central, Leadsom said that IT functionality allowing pharmacies to update the GP patient record would be rolled out during April and May 2024.

“The functionality to update the GP patient record will see pharmacy consultation outcomes arriving directly into the GP’s workflow for review and action,” she said.

Leadsom added that functionality to view all required information from the GP patient record from within the community pharmacy clinical system will be rolled out in summer 2024.

Community pharmacies did not have access to the GP Connect system, which allows them to view patients’ GP care records and update them with details from patient consultations, in time for the launch of the Pharmacy First service.

In a statement published on 12 April 2024, Community Pharmacy England (CPE) said that IT system suppliers were in the process of adding the GP Connect ‘update record’ function to their systems to allow community pharmacies to share information with GP practices about consultations performed under the Pharmacy First, blood pressure testing and contraception services

Commenting on the Pharmacy First consultation figures provided by Leadsom, Alastair Buxton, director of NHS Services at CPE, told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “It’s excellent to hear how many patients are already being helped by Pharmacy First; this is a big vote of confidence from the public.

“This early success and positive feedback from patients is all the more incredible as pharmacies faced significant IT issues over the last couple of months.

“Pharmacy owners and their teams have overcome those challenges, but their ability to pass the monthly threshold levels for clinical pathway consultations continues to be an area of risk and we will be watching this closely as more NHS data becomes available.

“Over time, we want to see the service expand so that even more people can make use of the expertise of pharmacists. In the meantime, we continue to push DHSC and NHS England to undertake more communications activity to increase the public’s awareness of the service”.

In February 2024, health minister Lord Markham told the House of Lords that around 3,000 Pharmacy First consultations were carried out in its first three days.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2024, Vol 312, No 7984;312(7984)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.309875

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