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NHSE: Pharmacy First delivery ‘challenging’ as IT changes needed


NHSE: Pharmacy First delivery ‘challenging’ as IT changes needed

Doubts have emerged over whether the IT systems needed to support the Pharmacy First service will be ready in time for its launch on January 31 after NHS England conceded its “delivery remains challenging.”

During a public meeting of its board on Thursday, NHSE said it was fulfilling “many” of the commitments it set out in its plan to improve access to primary care but indicated the digital infrastructure that will underpin Pharmacy First, which was agreed as part of £645 million in fresh funding for community pharmacy, will take time to put in place.

“Delivery remains challenging due to changes needed in digital infrastructure and we are working with suppliers to support January implementation. A public campaign is planned for 2024,” NHSE said.

It insisted it was supporting pharmacies to offer the expanded oral contraceptive service as part of that funding injection by updating the web page to allow women to check which pharmacy near them is providing it. “We expect almost half a million women will able to access the pill next year without needing to contact their GP first,” NHSE said.

It also said it was confident that up to 2.5 million blood pressure checks a year – an increase of 900,000 on last year – will be carried out from next spring under the hypertension case-finding service. “Estimates suggest this could prevent more than 1,350 heart attacks and strokes a year,” NHSE added.

It said it was “on track” to get 90 per cent of practices enabling patients to view their care records through the NHS app by March 2024 and insisted it had met its target of giving 90 per cent of practices the scope to allow patients to book or cancel appointments online.

In total, NHSE set out 14 commitments in four areas; empower patients, implement ‘Modern General Practices Access’, build capacity, and cut bureaucracy. It said that in the six months since the plan was published, “significant progress has been made in all key areas of the plan despite a challenging backdrop.”

This story was originally published by Independent Community Pharmacist.

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