The pharmacy minister has confirmed the Government is actively ‘working on’ creating a national pharmacy minor ailments service in England, much like Pharmacy First in Scotland. 

Maria Caulfield’s comment came in response to a tweet by RPS England’s chair Thorrun Govind, who called for a Pharmacy First scheme to be introduced to England so patients can receive prescriptions without visiting a GP.  

Ms Govid’s tweet was a direct reply to a GP who said he had seen several patients looking for hay fever medication who had already been seen by their pharmacist.   

In January, Ms Caulfield told the House of Commons that the Government was ‘looking towards’ introducing the model in England to enable patients to access treatments for minor ailments from pharmacists.  

The first time the Government spoke of a possible Pharmacy First service in England was in October 2022, when the health secretary wrote a piece for the Daily Mail.  

In the article, health secretary Sajid Javid said he was ‘asking [his] department to work with the NHS and look at a ‘Pharmacy First’ scheme for England, so pharmacists can provide treatment for specific conditions such as sore throats, without patients having to go to their GP’.  

Ms Caulfield’s tweet, published yesterday (9 May), however, was the first time the Government admitted it was actively working on the service.  

A national independent prescribing service has already been launched in pharmacies in Wales. as part of widespread changes to the pharmacy contract, 

As of last month (April), 92 of Wales’s 714 pharmacies begun offering the new prescribing service, which involves treatments for common minor ailments, access to repeat medicines in an emergency, annual flu vaccinations, and emergency contraception. 

The Welsh Government has said that a third of pharmacies in Wales should be able to offer an extended range of prescribing services by the end of this year. 

In Scotland, the Pharmacy First service launched in July 2020, offering anyone living in the country the opportunity to visit a pharmacist as their first port of call for minor illnesses, such as urinary tract infections, impetigo and acne.  

Much like the Welsh service, patients in Scotland can access assessment, referral and free treatment for their ailment through Pharmacy First.