Pharmacy First

Update : Pharmacy First (for Winter Pressures) was provided in participating pharmacies during the Winter months of 2018 and 2019. This service is currently under review for 2020 and on the service development plan for DH/HSCB and CPNI.


Many GP consultations are for conditions that could potentially be self managed. These common conditions are often self-limiting and require little or no medical intervention, such as sore throat, colds and flu-like illness. Many people who consult GPs for common conditions could be dealt with effectively by a community pharmacist. Pharmacists are trained to deal with common conditions; offering advice, recommending over the counter (OTC) products or referring patients to other healthcare professionals as appropriate.

A Pharmacy First Service is a service whereby patients are encouraged to consult with a participating community pharmacy rather than their GP for a defined list of common conditions. The pharmacist will give advice and (if appropriate) supply medication from an agreed formulary or refer the patient to the GP if necessary. Medicines, when deemed necessary, are supplied free of charge.

Research from the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) shows that up to 40% of GP time is taken dealing with patients suffering from common ailments. The first common conditions that may be managed via the Pharmacy First Service are sore throats, colds and flu-like illness.

The aim of the Pharmacy First Service is to displace activity, including consultations, advice and generating prescriptions for common conditions, from general practice to a community pharmacy-based service.

The objectives of the service are to:

  • Reduce prescribing for sore throats, colds and flu-like illness and reduce the number of general practice consultations for these conditions
  • Support the cost-effective use of medicines and health service resources in primary care
  • Promote the role of the community pharmacist as the first port of call for the management of sore throats, colds and flu-like illness

The Pharmacy First Service allows eligible patients to use their community pharmacy as the first port of call for the management of sore throats, colds and flu-like illness. The pharmacist advises treats or refers patients according to their needs.