Pharmacies across the UK are offering more clinical services than ever before. Here are some of the recent service developments in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
NHS Pharmacy First
This replaced the Minor Ailments Service and covers a variety of common ailments where you should visit your local pharmacy first to seek help. A qualified pharmacist or a member of the community pharmacy team will assess you, offer advice and provide treatment if needed. If your condition is more serious or requires further investigation, the pharmacist may refer you to another healthcare professional or NHS service.
A pharmacist can give you advice and treatment for minor illnesses such as the following: Acne, head lice, allergies, haemorrhoids (piles), athlete’s foot, hay fever, backache, impetigo, blocked or runny nose, indigestion, cold sores, mouth ulcers, constipation, pain, cough, period pain, cystitis, sore throat, diarrhoea, threadworms, earache, thrush, eczema, warts, headache, verrucas.
NHS Pharmacy First is available from all pharmacies in Scotland that dispense NHS prescriptions.
You are able to choose which pharmacy to go to and, in most cases, you won’t have to make an appointment.
When you visit the pharmacy, you will be asked for some information including your name, date of birth and postcode. You will also need to provide details about your symptoms. The pharmacy team will then give advice on your condition; provide medication (if needed); and refer you to another healthcare professional if they think it necessary.
A Patient Medication Record will be set up to make a note of any advice and treatment. You can ask to use the pharmacy’s consultation area or room if you want to speak to the pharmacist without anyone else overhearing.
Medicines Care and Review
This replaced the Chronic Medication Service. MCR is a service for people who take medication for long-term conditions and is available at all community pharmacies across Scotland.
All patients registered for MCR are entitled to a medication review. This will help identify any potential care issues but also aid suitability and selection for a serial prescription.
The pharmacist will look at how you take your medicines. You can discuss with them any problems you may have with your medicines and decide if a care plan would help you get the most benefit from them. The pharmacist will complete a review of your medicines at least once a year.
The care plan helps the pharmacist record what needs to happen to help you get the most out of your medicines, especially if you have been having problems. The pharmacist can give you a copy of your care plan and may, if you agree, contact your doctor about it if necessary.
You may be able to get serial prescriptions from your doctor so you can get your medicines on a long-term, repeat prescription without having to place orders regularly.
Discharge medicines service
Hospitals refer recently discharged patients to their community pharmacists. The pharmacist makes sure they understand their new medicines or any changes to their medicine routine. This is an additional layer of safety for patients and ensures that medicine is taken correctly at the right dose and at the right times.
This scheme has been running as a pilot for participating community pharmacies located within the Northern ICP (Derry / Strabane / Limavady) area, for patients being discharged from Altnagelvin Area Hospital, Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT).
Medicines adherence service
This service will help to ensure that people at high risk of harm from poor adherence to their medication will receive tailored support to assist them to take their medicines on time and as prescribed.
Emergency hormonal contraception
The service ensures that women and young people aged 13 years and over have timely access to sexual health advice and free EHC (including the provision of bridging contraception) when clinically indicated.
The aims of the service include:
1 Increasing the knowledge, especially among younger women, of the availability of EHC and bridging hormonal contraception from community pharmacies.
2 Ensuring treatment is in line with best practice.
3 Increasing the knowledge of risks such as Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Independent prescribing is when a pharmacist can write a prescription for a patient without having to send them to a GP.
From earlier this year, all pharmacies in Wales are now able to provide a new national independent prescribing service where a suitably qualified pharmacist is available.
Independent prescribing is expanding rapidly and, it is hoped that, by the end of 23/24, one in three pharmacies in Wales will be providing the service.
Health Education Improvement Wales are supporting up to 100 pharmacists a year to undertake prescribing training and from 2026 it is expected that all newly qualified pharmacists will be qualified prescribers at the end of their university courses. This will mean that, in time, all pharmacies will be able to offer these services.
Community Pharmacist Consultation Service
The CPCS sees patients referred by their GP or NHS 111 to a same-day appointment with a pharmacist for minor illness or an urgent supply of a regular medicine. CPCS aims to ease pressure on GP appointments and emergency departments, using the skills and medicines knowledge of pharmacists. The pharmacist can arrange if the patient needs to be escalated or referred to an alternative service.
New Medicine Service
Patients who have been prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition for the first time may be able to get extra help and advice about their medicine from their local pharmacist through a free scheme called the New Medicine Service.
People often have problems when they start a new medicine. The pharmacist will support patients to use the medicine safely and to best effect. The service is only available to people using certain medicines.
Hypertension case finding
This identifies people over the age of 40 who have previously not been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) and refers those with suspected hypertension for appropriate management. Pharmacists promote healthy behaviours to service users and refer people identified as likely to have high blood pressure to general practice for ongoing care. :