Home Estate Planning Almost half of patients unaware of Government’s Pharmacy First scheme

Almost half of patients unaware of Government’s Pharmacy First scheme

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Patients can now receive treatment for seven common conditions without visiting a GP, thanks to a revamp of pharmacy services.

But despite the launch of the government and NHS England’s Pharmacy First scheme, nearly half of patients remain unaware of this initiative, according to a YouGov poll of 2,028 people across England, Scotland, and Wales.

The Pharmacy First Service (PFS) aims to position pharmacies as the frontline of healthcare, offering initial contact for patients and enhancing accessibility, especially with the NHS waiting list in England reaching 7.6 million. However, the survey indicates that only 23 per cent of patients presently consider pharmacies their first choice for minor conditions.

Upon learning about the PFS, 56 per cent of patients expressed willingness to turn to pharmacists instead of GPs for certain conditions, highlighting the need for increased awareness of pharmacy services. The survey, conducted by Charac, an NHS-integrated platform for community pharmacies, sheds light on the crucial role these establishments can play.

The seven conditions for which pharmacists can issue prescriptions include earache, uncomplicated urinary tract infections, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, and infected insect bites. Furthermore, patients can now obtain oral contraception directly from a pharmacy without the need to consult a practice nurse or GP.

Seven conditions pharmacists will be able to issue prescriptions for:


Sore throat


Infected insect bites



Uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women

Furthermore, a Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) 2023 Pharmacy Pressures Survey
found that 81 per cent of pharmacy staff are ‘struggling to cope’ due to a significant rise in workload, and a
recent Education England (HEE) survey found that community vacancies doubled between
2017 and 2022.

Santosh Sahu, founder and CEO of Charac, said: “This sector has long voiced its concerns
about the introduction of Pharmacy First and we have seen first-hand how many community branches
are struggling to cope with an increase in demand.

“Ultimately, Pharmacy First will be vital in ensuring patients have easier access to healthcare, and for pharmacies to be able to provide a greater array of services to not only help their patients but also put them on a more sustainable financial position.

“Key to pharmacies being able to deliver on the new policy, we believe, is the digitisation of the sector,
giving them an online platform where they can more efficiently manage their administrative
processes and also offer new services, such as video consultations.

“Both funding and improved digital access can make a tangible difference in equipping them for
the future. Charac’s platform enhances pharmacies’ online presence, makes their processes more
efficient and helps them provide the broader range of services that will help take pressure off the NHS
and work to improve the nation’s health.”

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