CCA members celebrate hitting 200,000 Pharmacy First consultations milestone

Since launch on the 31st of January, CCA pharmacy teams have been working tirelessly to deliver the Pharmacy First service.

To date, 209,200 Pharmacy First consultations have been completed by CCA member pharmacies.

This milestone demonstrates that the service is here to stay. Patients continue to respond well to the service which has offered them an additional access route to same day NHS care.

Recent CCA analysis of service data has highlighted the need to boost GP referrals[1] and a clear link between electronic referrals and overall numbers of consultations within Integrated Care System (ICS) areas[2]. Unfortunately, given wide variance between higher and lower-performing ICSs, Pharmacy First implementation is resembling a ‘postcode lottery’ for patients across England.

The CCA is urging the next Government and NHS England to:

  1. Deploy high-quality and targeted public engagement campaigns over the coming months to raise awareness of Pharmacy First to patients, to ensure knowledge about the service is embedded before winter pressures set in.
  2. Embrace best practice from higher-performing ICSs, including bespoke support and training for GP surgeries, to increase referral numbers.
  3. Commit to fund Pharmacy First beyond 2025, giving patients, community pharmacies, and the wider NHS the confidence that the service will be there when they need it.

Company Chemists Association Chief Executive Malcolm Harrison said:

“I am delighted that CCA members have hit the milestone of 200,000 Pharmacy First consultations. The strong patient interest in the service and the stories we are hearing from the frontline show that Pharmacy First is here to stay.

In the short term, we need to sow further seeds for success. The next Government and the NHS England must deploy high-quality and targeted public awareness campaigns, as well as support for General Practice to increase the number of referrals.

Longer-term, we need to start exploring how Pharmacy First can be expanded, to further improve patient access to primary care. We have already begun to consider this opportunity and we look forward to sharing our views with policymakers. Expansion of Pharmacy First will only be possible if policymakers commit to fund Pharmacy First beyond 2025 – to give patients, pharmacy businesses, and the wider NHS confidence in the service.

Notes to Editors:

CCA Data Collection and Methodology:

  • The CCA collects members’ data via a ‘blackbox exercise’. Members submit their data which is then anonymised and aggregated. Under the terms of this blackbox data collection and in
  • line with the parameters of competition law, the CCA is unable to supply individual CCA member data
  • Data was collected by the Company Chemists’ Association, the trade association for large pharmacy operators across Great Britain, from members across a sample of 3,000+ pharmacies between 31st January to and including the 9th June 2024.
  • The number of consultations refers to all patient consultations recorded within PharmOutcomes and does not account for any gateway criteria.

[1] CCA Pharmacy First Service – meeting patient need  1st May 2024

[2] CCA Pharmacy First: Local Implementation 30th May 2024

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