The community pharmacy negotiator is looking to gather data about the number of patients seeking informal advice from pharmacies, outside of paid Pharmacy First consultations.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) will launch a pharmacy ‘advice audit’ on Monday 3 June, which will ask pharmacies to record this data on any single day within that week.

The information gathered will be used in funding discussions and in conversations with MPs, CPE said.

Janet Morrison, CPE chief executive, commented that since Pharmacy First was first discussed, the negotiator's committee ‘thought it may have a “halo effect” in driving more people to pharmacies for health care information and advice that does not meet the gateway criteria for a paid consultation’.

‘Pharmacy owners are telling us that this is already the case, so it’s critical that we measure this – and quickly,’ she added.

According to CPE, similar audits run during the Covid-19 pandemic recorded ‘increasing levels of public reliance on community pharmacies’. And they were the focus of a parliamentary debate and helped make the case for Covid-19 costs and Pharmacy First.

Ms Morrison encouraged ‘all pharmacies to take part in this audit if they can’, adding that CPE had aimed to make the process as easy as possible.

‘The data you provide will show government the huge amount of unpaid work pharmacy teams do for the NHS, demonstrating the situation clearly to decision makers and those who influence them,’ she said.

‘As we work to monitor the implementation of Pharmacy First and set the building blocks for the future CPCF, such data will be of critical importance,’ Ms Morrison added.

A recent survey of 266 independent pharmacy owners conducted by the Independent Pharmacies Association (IPA) found that for the majority of respondents, less than half of Pharmacy First consultations pass the gateway point for a service payment, while each consultation took an average of 20 minutes or more.

Meanwhile, recent data from the Company Chemists' Association (CCA) suggested that 88% (81,627) of patients presenting to a CCA member pharmacy with one of the seven common conditions within the first month of the service had a consultation with a pharmacist that passed the gateway point.