The University of Manchester

British Experts Secured Funding to Assess Innovative Pharmacy First Initiative

A group of British scientists and experts have been granted funding to assess the newly introduced NHS Pharmacy First service. The team, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with the University of Nottingham, the Universities of Manchester and Oxford, and the UK Health Security Agency, has received £2.4 million from the National Institute for Health and Care Research to evaluate this service. Pharmacy First allows pharmacies to prescribe medication for minor ailments, and it was launched across England in January 2024 as part of the NHS Primary Care Recovery Plan. Starting from February 2024, participating pharmacies will be able to provide prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions, including earache, urinary tract infections, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, and infected insect bites, following consultation with a pharmacist. The research team will assess the uptake, safety, fairness, cost-effectiveness, and acceptability of Pharmacy First, as well as its impact on antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance. Dr. Kimberley Sonnex from the University of Nottingham will lead the evaluation of uptake and safety, emphasizing the importance of putting patients first. Professor Claire Anderson, also from the University of Nottingham, and president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, expressed her excitement to be part of the team evaluating Pharmacy First in England, drawing lessons from similar successful programs in Wales and Scotland. Professor Rachel Elliott, leading the Manchester Centre for Health Economics, highlighted the need to use limited NHS resources wisely to ensure patients receive the best value for their healthcare. This evaluation will also contribute to understanding the potential effects of Pharmacy First on healthcare access and outcomes for underserved communities, as community pharmacies play a crucial role in providing healthcare services to all.

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