The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) has been awarded a £2.4m contract by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to monitor the Pharmacy First service in England.

The LSHTM research team will work in partnership with experts at the UK Health Security Agency and the Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham universities to evaluate Pharmacy First's take-up, safety, equity, cost effectiveness and acceptability, as well as its implications for antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Last November, the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England (NHSE) and Community Pharmacy England jointly announced that Pharmacy First would be closely monitored post-launch ‘particularly in relation to antimicrobial supply to guard against the risk of increasing antimicrobial resistance’.

In further details, NHSE said operators could be suspended from delivering Pharmacy First if concerns over AMR and patient safety emerge.

Dr Rebecca Glover, project lead on LSHTM’s evaluation team, is an assistant professor in AMR.

She said: ‘Our team has expertise in evaluating complex policy interventions, such as the last two UK Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans, so alongside expert external colleagues, we will pay particular attention to the impact of Pharmacy First on antibiotic prescribing and resistance across the health system.’

In addition, the LSHTM said its research teams would work closely with co-researchers from ‘historically marginalised-in-research and medically underserved communities’ and that their analysis will contribute to understanding of potential consequences of Pharmacy First for inequalities in access to health services and outcomes.

Dr Glover will jointly lead the evaluation, which will be three years long, with Professor Nicholas Mays, working alongside doctors Mirza Lalani, Agata Pacho and Stephen O’Neill.