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Roll-out of Pharmacy First a 'pivotal moment' says CPhO David Webb

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Roll-out of Pharmacy First a 'pivotal moment' says CPhO David Webb

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.

“We’re offering funded clinical examination skills training with online and face-to-face sessions including specialist modules in cardiology; ear, nose and throat; paediatrics; and dermatology. The offer also includes training in the use of medical devices such as otoscopes,” says Mr Webb.

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.”

The best evidence and expertise have been used to create the seven Pharmacy First clinical pathways and surveillance of the antibiotic data by ICBs and NHS England will be robust, the CPhO says, warning: “It's crucial to ensure the NHS’s confidence in community pharmacy is recognised in terms of the quality of service and professionalism. These new services are high profile – they’re being observed by the wider NHS and Department of Health and Social Care.”

In a wider context, “these important developments … signal an exciting future in which we can further build on the strong progress made in helping to manage wider primary care demand and integrating into local health systems. This progress will be reinforced over time by the growing number of pharmacists qualified in independent prescribing, enabling a wider group of patients to be seen and treated,” Mr Webb says.

Community Pharmacy England is running a series of webinars to help contractors and their teams prepare for the new services. New year dates are:

  • Hypertension Case-Finding Service (Wednesday 3rd January 2024, 7-8.30pm)
  • Pharmacy Contraception Service: getting going with the service (10 January 2024, 7-8.30pm). ‘Sold out’ – recording will be made available.
  • Pharmacy First: Getting ready for launch (15 January 2024 7-8.30pm). ‘Sold out’ – recording will be made available.

More information on how to prepare for the Pharmacy First service is on the CPE website.

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