Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) has issued a statement to draw attention to the differences between the Pharmacy First service now live in England and the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service that has been running since its launch in July 2020.

CPS has moved to clarify the points of difference as ‘the launch of this new service in England may bring some confusion to the public and service providers, especially those who are located close to the Scotland-England border’.

The NHS Pharmacy First service launched in England on 31 January encompasses the seven common conditions of uncomplicated urinary tract infection, shingles, impetigo, infected insect bites, acute sore throat, acute sinusitis and acute otitis media.

The Scottish Pharmacy First service, meanwhile, does not include acute sore throat, acute sinusitis and acute otitis media. However, unlike the English service, it includes hayfever and skin infection not limited to insect bites.

The CPS statement emphasised: ‘These two services are separate from one another and are not interchangeable between home nations.

‘There is also the possibility of patients from England travelling to Scotland, and vice versa, who will be unaware of the differences between the two services and will need further assistance in accessing healthcare.’

Pharmacist Javier Rojas Navea, who works in GLM Romanes Ltd Pharmacy in Coldstream, on the Scottish border, told The Pharmacist that the pharmacy had not yet had an influx of patients confused by the new service in England.

But he said that the team were expecting and preparing to explain to patients what services they could access, as they are often visited by patients from both sides of the border.

‘There was one person who came this morning for a UTI. She was from across the river [in England]. Probably she falls into the case of someone maybe led by the news of having Pharmacy First in England, [and thought it was] valid here in Scotland,’ Mr Rojas Navea said.

Because of the pharmacy’s close proximity to England, around four in 10 of its patients live in England but are registered with a general practice in Scotland, and can therefore access Scottish NHS services, such as prescriptions and Scotland’s Pharmacy First scheme, free of charge.

But patients who are registered in England must pay for their prescriptions in a Scottish pharmacy.