The importance of publicising Pharmacy First has been underlined by a new survey showing that just under half (44%) of patients were unaware of the service which launches today.

The poll, held by pharmacy platform Charac in partnership with YouGov, also found that only 23% of patients are currently using pharmacies as their initial port of call for minor conditions.

However, once informed of the now-live Pharmacy First service, the number of patients who would go to pharmacists rather than general practices for certain conditions rose to 56%.

Simon Tebbutt, director of membership at the National Pharmacy Association, said: ‘This poll shows that most people would be very happy to go to a pharmacy to get help with a common condition when they know what a pharmacist can offer.

‘The Pharmacy First initiative will be a godsend to millions of people who will be able to go straight to a pharmacist for help with everyday health issues. We expect more and more people will use this straightforward and helpful route into the NHS as they hear about it.’

Community Pharmacy England recently highlighted the need for pharmacists to promote Pharmacy First, publishing a range of resources for publicity purposes.

Santosh Sahu, founder and chief executive of Charac, said: ‘Ultimately, Pharmacy First will be vital in ensuring patients have easier access to healthcare, and for pharmacies to be able to provide a greater array of services to not only help their patients but also put them in a more sustainable financial position.’

More than 10,000 community pharmacies in England will begin offering the new Pharmacy First service from today – marking what has been described as a ‘step-change’ for pharmacies, patients and the public.

The YouGov poll was based on a survey of more than 2,000 people across England, Wales and Scotland on 24 and 25 January.