Parkash Krishan, practice manager of Mayfield Medical Centre in Wolverhampton, talks to Saša Janković about the clear benefits of offering the Pharmacy First service during the pandemic.

Service type: Pharmacy First.

Name and location of pharmacy: Mayfield Pharmacy, Wolverhampton.

Name of manager: Parkash Krishan.

Why did you start offering this service?

I started offering this service about a year and a half ago. Mayfield Pharmacy is attached to Mayfield Medical Centre – where I am practice manager – and our aim is always to work as a team to best serve our patients.

We were already offering a lot of pharmacy services such as emergency EHC, minor ailments, urgent supply, the C-Card scheme, an urgent eyecare service, and more recently CPCS and DMS, so Pharmacy First was an obvious addition to complement these.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

We have bought various PharmaDoctor PGDs for healthy living, men’s health, seasonal health, skincare, vaccinations and so on, which have different prices.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

Before Covid all our staff from the pharmacy – and the surgery – had face-to-face and online training about the Pharmacy First service from the CCG, with reception staff trained as Care Navigators to triage appropriate patients to the pharmacy.

We also had on-site training with our clinical staff to go through the service and where to direct people to, so we as an organisation could work out what our joined-up approach to how to proceed with it would be.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

The practice has about 10,000 patients, so Pharmacy First had started to accelerate before Covid, and our reception staff - as Care Navigators – were used to triaging patients before they came in to see if it was the right service for them.

Once the pandemic took off, we didn’t close our doors at either the surgery or the pharmacy. The pharmacy screened patients before they came in and our nurses also send the patients to the pharmacist for minor ailments. No patient was ever refused, and along with telephone triages for those who rang for appointments, we found Pharmacy First worked really well with care navigation. If the pharmacists or any of the technicians feel a patient needs to be seen by a GP then they are all on one site and can liaise between each other to either set up an urgent appointment or book one or another time.

Are there any opportunities to sell OTC or prescription products during or after the consultation?

There are plenty of opportunities to sell OTC medicines because there is a lot more on the list these days that patients can buy themselves.

There are also lots of medicines being removed from what doctors can prescribed too, and we have regular meeting to discuss those so all staff know what can and can’t be prescribed.

How have patients responded to the service?

It has been well received because it works well. Patients like it because they can see the pharmacist immediately without having to wait, and get referred back to the GP if needed. If they only have a minor condition like dry eyes then it can be addressed quickly which means they get better faster.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

It was going well before Covid, but then we became a Covid vaccination centre so it slowed down a bit. We haven’t done an audit on Pharmacy First yet because of Covid so I don’t have exact numbers, but I do know that it has increased footfall for the pharmacy as we have had to take on extra staff because we are doing more consultations.

How much do you charge for the service?

It’s free.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Yes, absolutely. You don’t have to offer the Pharmacy First service but it’s good practice and it’s in the patients’ best interest.