Trade for prosperity

Pharmacies have consultation rooms and an appointment is not always necessary”

The New ‘NHS Pharmacy First’ service in England includes the appropriate supply of medicines for seven common conditions including earache, sore throat and urinary tract infections, aiming to address health issues before they get worse.

Previously, NHS patients in England had to visit their GP to access prescription only medication, sometimes meaning delays in treatment.

Community pharmacies offer a more convenient way to access healthcare that includes support with healthy eating, exercise, stopping smoking, monitoring your blood pressure, contraception, flu and covid vaccinations.

The Pharmacy First service builds on the NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service which has run since October 2019. The consultation service enables patients to be referred into community pharmacy for a minor illness or an urgent repeat medicine supply.


The new Pharmacy First service, launched in January this year, adds to the existing consultation service and enables community pharmacies to complete episodes of care for seven common conditions.

It frees up GP appointments for patients who need them most and will give people quicker and more convenient access to safe and high quality healthcare.

Accessing Pharmacy First services

The following table shows the seven conditions local pharmacists can manage across various age ranges.

Clinical pathway Age range
Acute otitis media 1 to 17 years
Impetigo 1 year and over
Infected insect bites 1 year and over
Shingles 18 years and over
Sinusitis 12 years and over
Sore throat 5 years and over
Uncomplicated urinary tract infections Women 16-64 years


Patients can be referred to the pharmacy by the general practice, urgent and emergency care settings and NHS 111. In addition, for the common conditions consultations, you can attend or contact the pharmacy directly without the need for referral.

Providing high quality health and care services

Pharmacies have consultation rooms and an appointment is not always necessary.

Every pharmacist trains for five years in the use of medicines and managing minor illnesses, so they are well equipped to provide health and wellbeing advice to help people stay well. They are also experienced in spotting warning signs, otherwise known as red flag symptoms, which may warrant a referral to a doctor.

After a consultation with the pharmacist, the pharmacy will send a notification to the patient’s GP on the same day or on the following working day. 

Can I still see my GP? 

You can still choose to visit your GP if you prefer. Pharmacy First simply offers an alternative route for getting treatment for these specific conditions.

Will I have to pay for my advice or medication? 

The appointment and advice from a pharmacist are free of charge.

If you are recommended an over-the-counter medication, you will pay the costs of buying this.

If you are supplied with a prescription-only medication, usual prescription charges would apply unless you qualify for free prescriptions.