The patient group directions (PGDs) that will enable community pharmacists in England to provide a common conditions service are currently being worked through by the government and NHS England (NHSE), Community Pharmacy England (CPE) chief executive Janet Morrison has confirmed.

The service will utilise seven PGDs to allow community pharmacists to treat – including with antibiotics where appropriate – sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.

At a conference hosted by pharmacy support group Avicenna yesterday in London, Ms Morrison said that the seven clinical pathways were currently ‘being worked through’ ‘very intensely’ by government, and would then need to be signed off by the chief medical officer (CMO).

‘That needs to be done very soon,’ Ms Morrison added.

And she told delegates at the conference that the current negotiations about the allocation of the £645m promised to community pharmacy for additional services had received more involvement from No.10 and the Treasury than normal, because of the prime minister’s ‘personal support for the plan’.

When asked when the funding might reach community pharmacies, Ms Morrison responded: ‘I can't really say but what I would refer you back to is what they originally said publicly was that they wanted to get common conditions service up and running in the winter.’

Though she pondered what a 'realistic' timeframe might be, 'given pharmacy business and what it's like through the winter'.

Following sign-off of the PDGs from the CMO, IT and digital delivery systems would also need to be signed off, Ms Morrison said.

‘There's a lot of work there to be done,’ she said.

‘We all want to get the money out to the sector on all sides of the table. But there's a few steps to go before we can say when it's announced,’ Ms Morrison added.

In its delivery plan for recovering access to primary care, published in May, NHSE said that it would launch the service ‘so that by end of 2023 community pharmacies can supply prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions’.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) confirmed to The Pharmacist last week that work on a Pharmacy First service and Tier 2 of the Pharmacy Contraception service in England was ‘ongoing’.

It added that it was in the process of consulting with the sector and would be able to confirm start dates for the services once the consultation had concluded.