Pharmacy First (previously known as Community Pharmacy Consultation Service - CPCS)

The new NHS Pharmacy First service, launched on 31 January 2024, enables patients across England to access care and treatment without the need to visit their GP.

The initiative will enable pharmacists to use more of their skills and will free up to 10 million GP appointments a year whilst helping patients to get quicker and more convenient care.

What does the Pharmacy First service offer?

As well as providing existing services like blood pressure checking, contraception and advice on common medical conditions, pharmacies will now be able to assess patients and provide treatment (including antibiotics and antivirals) for seven common conditions, covering:

  • sinusitis (ages 12 years and over)
  • sore throat (ages 5 years and over)
  • earache (ages 1 to 17 years)
  • impetigo (ages 1 year and over)
  • shingles (ages 18 years and over)
  • uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women (UTI’s) (ages 16 – 64 years)
  • infected insect bites (ages 1 year and over)

More than 10,000 pharmacies have already signed up to Pharmacy First – over 95 per cent of all those in England.

When calling the practice, if you have a minor ailment, you will be offered this service. The receptionist will ask a few questions to establish whether the minor illness meets the criteria for referral. Once the referral has been made, the community pharmacist will contact the patient the same day or the next working day for a clinical consultation and provide appropriate advice or signposting or the patient can contact the pharmacy themselves directly.