England’s chief pharmacist David Webb says the introduction of the Pharmacy First service, alongside the revamped Contraception and Blood Check services, is a “pivotal moment” for community pharmacy. It “provides an opportunity for community pharmacy to step more fully into its clinical future as part of the integrated NHS primary care team,” he says in an end-of-year letter to the sector.
There is the potential to divert around 10 million people from general practice into community pharmacy. “We need to continue to work together to deliver the new services successfully and achieve the uptake that the NHS is expecting,” the CPhO says.
NHS England national and regional teams are supporting community pharmacies with resources for implementation, and there is likely to be a national marketing campaign for Pharmacy First in 2024.
Pharmacy First is a team endeavour and support is needed from general practice and primary care network teams, he says. “I’ve spoken with the ICB pharmacy leadership group about supporting implementation as part of their wider delivery plans, and we’re engaging similarly with national and regional GP organisations.”
“A key element in our success will be building effective and sustainable relationships between general practice and community pharmacy teams at a local level. We’re asking local pharmacy leaders to work closely with GPs to help reassure and reinforce the messages about clinical capability, and to proactively manage antimicrobial resistance concerns in relation to Pharmacy First.”
Community Pharmacy England is running a series of webinars to help contractors and their teams prepare for the new services. More information on how to prepare for the Pharmacy First service is on the CPE website.