Support Available to Pharmacists

I would like to acknowledge the valuable and skilled work undertaken by pharmacists throughout the country every day. Community pharmacies do much more than simply dispense medicine - they play a vital role in our communities, offering advice and care. 

A renewed focus on prevention has resulted in pharmacists playing a greater role in the delivery of healthcare services. To ease pressures on GP practices, the Government has committed to expanding the range of services available from community pharmacies, freeing up time for GPs to support patients with more complex needs.

In May 2023, the Government published a Primary Care Recovery Plan. This plan included a commitment to invest up to £645 million to enable pharmacists to provide treatment for common conditions. Pharmacists will be able to supply prescription-only medicines for ear pain, severe sore throat, skin infections and urinary infections. They will be able to start courses of oral contraception. These measures are aimed at freeing up an estimated 2 million appointments.

In January 2024, the Government launched Pharmacy First, meaning pharmacists can treat seven common health conditions without patients needing to see a GP. More than 95 per cent of pharmacies in England have opted-in so far with services available from the day of launch.

The Pharmacy First approach builds on the other measures outlined in the Primary Care Recovery Plan last spring, including tackling the 8am rush by giving GPs new digital tools and providing more GP staff and more appointments. In combination, the Primary Care Recovery Plan aims to free up 10 million GP appointments a year by next winter, and give the public more choice in where and how they access care.

The Government is also committed to sustainably funding community pharmacies. The Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework five-year deal commits £2.5 billion in each financial year between 2019 and 2024 for community pharmacies. In September 2022, following discussions between the Department, NHS England and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, which represents pharmacy contractors in England, the Government announced an agreement for the remaining years of the Framework, including a one-off investment of £100 million.