The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and Company Chemist’s Association (CCA) have expressed confidence that Pharmacy First in England will be a success due to the skills and dedication of pharmacy teams.

In a joint open letter published today, they thanked pharmacy teams across England for delivering the service.

But they acknowledged the ‘immense pressures’ faced by the sector.

‘No-one is under any illusion that delivering this new service will be easy, especially in the early days of implementation,' they added.

‘Yet we are confident that pharmacists and pharmacy teams will rise to the challenge, knowing that you have a superb track record of providing first-class care, for common illnesses and much else besides,’ the letter said.

The organisations also stressed the opportunity ‘to build a case for further investment in community pharmacy in the future’.

And they highlighted how Pharmacy First could help to improve patient access to NHS care and better utilise the skills and knowledge of pharmacists in England.

‘We are confident that the Pharmacy First service will be a success because of your skills and your dedication to patients, who will benefit enormously from this development,’ the letter from the NPA and the CCA added.

While Pharmacy First is ‘a great step forward’, they warned ‘it doesn’t fix the sector’s funding crisis’.

And they promised they would be ‘keeping up the pressure for fair funding for the core dispensing service’.

As Pharmacy First launched in England yesterday, NHS England announced that a total of 10,265 community pharmacies had signed up to offer the service.

But public awareness and the capacity of pharmacy teams to prepare for the service indicate that the initial roll-out may be slow.

The launch of the service comes weeks after the sector’s negotiator warned that the reduction in Category M reimbursement outlined in the January drug tariff could ‘hamper’ the success of Pharmacy First in England.