NHS England is not confident IT solutions will be in place for the planned 31 January rollout of Pharmacy First, senior officials have revealed.

The Government had already said the rollout date was subject to the ‘appropriate digital systems being in place’ to support the services.

However, during a public meeting yesterday NHS England’s board was told that the delivery of the scheme ‘remains challenging due to changes needed in digital infrastructure’.

A delivery update shared ahead of the meeting added: ‘We are working with suppliers to support January implementation. A public campaign is planned for 2024.’

Chief information officer John Quinn said that the scheme will operate in ‘a complex environment’ with ‘multiple suppliers and a fixed time scale’.

He said: ‘I think it’s right to be cautious about the delivery. Everyone’s doing everything they can with daily calls and holding suppliers to account, and so we’re monitoring it really closely.’

Interim director of primary care Alex Morton told the board that ‘the essence of the problem is the complexity of connecting digital suppliers in general practice and digital suppliers in community pharmacy’ because this has not been done before.

She added: ‘The team are tracking this on a day-to-day basis with delivery confidence being looked at on a day to day basis as well.

‘At the moment the focus on testing on first of type and some of the consultation read-out areas, particularly.

‘So I think on this one we will need to continue to monitor and be clear about the impact of the progress that they’re making and the position at the end of January.’

A version of this article first appeared on our sister publication Pulse