Large multiple pharmacies have delivered around 200,000 Pharmacy First consultations in under six months.

Since 31 January, Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) member pharmacies have delivered 209,200 Pharmacy First consultations, the CCA said on Wednesday.

CCA chief executive Malcolm Harrison said the strong patient interest demonstrated ‘that the service is here to stay’.

But he called for ‘high-quality and targeted public awareness campaigns’ and support for general practice to increase the number of referrals’.

Previous analysis from the CCA has suggested that GP referrals are 'key' to the success of Pharmacy First, while the association claimed that the NHS public campaign promoting the service had ‘little to no impact’.

Commenting on the milestone this week, the CCA chief executive added: ‘Longer-term, we need to start exploring how Pharmacy First can be expanded, to further improve patient access to primary care.’

Mr Harrison said the CCA had ‘already begun to consider this opportunity’ and looked forward to sharing its views with policymakers.

And he said: ‘Expansion of Pharmacy First will only be possible if policymakers commit to fund Pharmacy First beyond 2025 – to give patients, pharmacy businesses, and the wider NHS confidence in the service’.

In its election manifesto, the Conservative party has pledged additional funding for the service until 2030, as well as to expand Pharmacy First to include acne and chest infections.

Meanwhile, Labour have pledged to ‘reform the NHS, so everyone has access to healthcare when they need it’ – including by further expanding the role of community pharmacy, while the Liberal Democrats have committed to working towards ‘fairer and more sustainable long-term funding’ for the sector.