NHS England sets target for 320,000 Pharmacy First consultations per month by March 2025

The updated primary care delivery plan also sets goals for the expansion of the community pharmacy blood pressure testing and contraception services.
Woman having blood pressure taken

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

The target is set out 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.

In the updated plan, NHS England also said it will “continue to realise the potential of community pharmacies” by “growing the monthly patient volumes” by at least 71,000 blood pressure check consultations and 25,800 oral contraception consultations by March 2025.

“We will review the ambition of this trajectory in September [2024], when public uptake of the service in the first nine months is understood,” the document added.

NHS England also said that it will continue to monitor uptake of the three clinical services by distance-selling pharmacies, adding that they “have an important role to play in providing wider access to patients via video consultations”.

The plan states that “further funding will be available in 2024/25 to support the continued delivery of the delivery plan for recovering access to primary care” including “funding to support the continued roll-out of Pharmacy First”.

“Further details of funding flows will follow as soon as possible,” it adds.

Commenting on the updated plan, Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it was “imperative” for NHS England to run further “targeted and high-quality media campaigns to raise patient awareness” and provide “targeted support to GP practices to boost the rate of referrals” to the pharmacy services.

The community pharmacy has a strong track record of delivering when called upon,” he said.

“Specifically on the Pharmacy First service, early indications from our members show that there is strong patient demand for the service.

“However, we must not lose sight of the horrendous funding and workload pressures the sector continues to face, especially when core funding has been cut in real-terms by 30% since 2015.

“The sector is in urgent need of further funding to halt the worrying trend of pharmacy closures and ensure these targets are delivered,” he added.

In November 2023, NHS England announced that all pharmacies offering the Pharmacy First service would also be required to offer the blood pressure check service and community pharmacy contraception service by 31 March 2025.

In January 2024, the Department of Health and Social Care said that almost 3,000 contractors had signed up to the expanded pharmacy contraception service.

In February 2024, health minister Lord Markham told the House of Lords that around 3,000 Pharmacy First consultations were carried out over in its first three days, after it was launched on 31 January 2024.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2024, Vol 312, No 7984;312(7984)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.308543

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