Over 10,000 pharmacies in England will be offering the new advanced service

The NHS has announced the launch of Pharmacy First, which allows patients in England to receive treatment for seven common conditions without needing to see a GP.

Approximately 10,265 community pharmacies in England will be offering the new advanced service.

From today, patients in England will be able to receive treatment for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women under the age of 65 without needing a GP appointment or prescription.

Community pharmacies play a vital role in keeping local communities in England healthy.

The NHS has said that the new service will free up to ten million GP appointments by this winter.

“This is all part of [a] major transformation in the way the NHS delivers care, [which will give] people more choice in how they can access treatment,” said Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive.

Community Pharmacy England announced in November that its committee unanimously agreed to accept the deal with the government and the NHS, which set out how the £645m investment pledged within the delivery plan for recovering access to primary care would be used to support community pharmacies.

Following the launch, Janet Morrison, chief executive officer, Community Pharmacy England, said: “The service marks a step-change for pharmacies, patients and the public, and one that we hope to build on for the future.”

Ruth Rankine, primary care director, NHS Confederation, commented: “Extending the treatments that pharmacists can provide through the launch of Pharmacy First is a welcome step that should help ease the burden on GPs and their teams while ensuring patients can get safe and convenient care for minor conditions.”

The new service builds on the expansion of the contraceptive pill service, which was launched in December 2023, allowing over 5,000 pharmacies to offer women the chance to get a supply of oral contraception over the counter without needing to see a GP.