Planning for a public-facing campaign to help raise awareness of the highly anticipated community pharmacy common conditions service in England is ‘underway’.

The move comes as part of a wider national communication campaign which aims to increase the public’s understanding of changes to primary care services, as promised in the recent primary care recovery plan.

Dr Kiren Collison, interim medical director for primary care, told a webinar for GPs earlier this month how plans were in place to develop a national campaign ‘around the community pharmacy offer’, and specifically around a Pharmacy First service.

And she shared a presentation which said: ‘Planning for a national campaign to support the proposed community pharmacy new common conditions service is underway.’

The service, which was first mooted in the Delivery plan for access recovery in primary care in May, proposes to enable community pharmacies to supply prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions without patients needing to see a GP.

Discussions between the government and community pharmacy around the launch of a Pharmacy First service are currently ongoing, though the primary care plan suggested it would be up and running before the end of 2023, subject to consultation.

The Department of Health and Social Care last week told The Pharmacist that it was in the process of consulting with the sector and would be able to confirm start dates for the service once the consultation had concluded.

Meanwhile, chief executive of Community Pharmacy England Janet Morrison, confirmed at an Avicenna conference at the weekend that the patient group directions required for the service were currently being worked through by the government and NHS England.

When asked by The Pharmacist for further information on the national campaign around the service, NHS England highlighted its commitment within the primary care plan to launch a national campaign with ‘three components’ to ‘increase public understanding of the changes to primary care services, the benefits they bring, and how and what services they can access’.

These three components included: building confidence in digital access, such as the NHS App; increasing information about the wider practice team, including pharmacists; and increasing knowledge around the wider care offers available, such as in community pharmacy.

‘We know navigating healthcare is not always easy and many of us have at some point wondered whether it is best to call our practice, go to a pharmacy, ring NHS 111 or go online, or whether we should attend an urgent treatment centre or accident and emergency department (A&E). We want to make navigation clearer for patients,’ NHS England said within its primary care plan.