NHS Pharmacy First service launch rescheduled for end of July 2020

Exclusive: The delayed NHS Pharmacy First scheme will now be launched across Scotland on 29 July 2020, The Pharmaceutical Journal has learned.

Scottish parliament at Holyrood

The rollout of NHS Pharmacy First has been rescheduled to launch across Scotland on 29 July 2020, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has confirmed.

The service’s launch, which was initially planned for 22 April 2020, was postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a video update published by Matt Barclay, director of operations at Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS), on 31 March 2020, Barclay said that it was “in no-one’s interest” that the service is rolled out on the originally intended date, and that it would instead be introduced later in 2020.

A spokesperson for CPS confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal on 12 June 2020 that the new launch date would be 29 July 2020.

Members of Scottish Parliament welcomed the rollout of NHS Pharmacy First during a debate on resuming NHS services which took place on 2 June 2020.

Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green Party member of Scottish Parliament for Lothian, said: “The role of pharmacists has also been highlighted during the pandemic.”

“We need to fully use the expertise of those highly skilled professionals,” she added.

“An increased focus on community pharmacy as the first port of call for managing self-limiting illnesses and supporting self-management of long-term conditions is a positive step — it lessens the strain on our GPs and it lets pharmacists contribute more fully to the multidisciplinary team.”  

NHS Pharmacy First is due to replace the Minor Ailment Service, in what CPS has described as “the biggest change to the community pharmacy contractual framework in recent years”.

Speaking during an event held at the Signet Library, Edinburgh, on 11 March 2020, Martin Green, chair of the CPS board, said the service will “change the dynamics of how patients access NHS services” in Scotland.

At the same event, Joe FitzPatrick, minister for public health, sport and wellbeing for the Scottish government, told attendees that pharmacists “have my, and the cabinet secretary’s [Jeane Freeman], full support to make this one of community pharmacy’s greatest achievements.”

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, June 2020, Vol 304, No 7938;304(7938):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20208064