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Pharmacy First set to launch this week

Pharmacy News

Pharmacy First set to launch this week

NHS England has confirmed that the Pharmacy First service will launch on Wednesday (January 31) and a six-week national advertising campaign to encourge the public to access the new scheme will run from mid-February.

In a letter sent to community pharmacies last week signed by England’s chief pharmaceutical officer David Webb, national director for primary care and community services Dr Amanda Doyle, and national medical director for primary care Dr Claire Fuller, the officials thanked the more than 10,000 pharmacies which have so far registered to deliver the service.

NHSE is also developing a communications toolkit for integrated care boards to share information across their channels.

The letter reminds pharmacy contractors who have not yet registered to deliver the service to do so by tomorrow (Tuesday January 30) to qualify for the one-off initial fixed payment of £2,000.

The letter also states that, from January 31, pharmacy teams will have access to a new Pharmacy First IT module on their chosen clinical services IT system (Cegedim, Emis Pinnacle, Positive Solutions and Sonar) to allow them to make the necessary clinical records for the consultations provided as part of the service. This will also enable them to send the necessary data for payment and monitoring purposes to the NHSBSA.

The systems will send post-event messages to the patient’s general practice, via NHSmail, as is currently the case for the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS).

During February 2024, the functionality in pharmacy and GP IT systems will be enhanced to allow structured post-event data to be sent to GP systems, meaning practice staff will be able to review the pharmacy consultation information and add the data to the patient record with one click of a button.

To prepare for the service, the letter says that pharmacy contractors should:

  • Ensure staff review the CPPE Pharmacy First self-assessment framework to assess their competence to provide all elements of the service
  • Ensure they comply with the service specification
  • Understand the requirements associated with service payments in the Drug Tariff
  • Order an otoscope (does not apply to distance selling pharmacies).

Pharmacy contractors should review their information in NHS Profile Manager to ensure information such as opening times and contact details are up to date. Pharmacies will not need to update Profile Manager to indicate they provide Pharmacy First as it is not listed as a specific service in the Profile Manager list of services, the letter says.

Earlier this month the PDA warned that, after surveying its members, two-thirds of respondents said that they were not confident that their pharmacy would be able to deliver Pharmacy First given current workload pressures. Only 4 per cent said they were confident the sector could deliver the new service.

‘Good news’

Commenting on the announcement, Janet Morrison, chief executive of Community Pharmacy England, said: “It is good news that the Pharmacy First service will be able to commence as planned on 31st January. Pharmacy owners and teams have been working incredibly hard to get ready for this and for pharmacy businesses there is a critical need to get this additional funding flowing.”

Ms Morrison admitted that implementation has been and will continue to be a challenge. “While we don’t expect a large number of people to be walking in for Pharmacy First consultations on day one of the service – as behaviour change takes time and effort to bring about – January 31st will be a significant and historic day for community pharmacy.

"Pharmacy First represents the first significant investment in the sector for many years and will put us on a stronger footing for the future.”

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