More than two-thirds of pharmacists in England are feeling ‘under additional pressure’ since the launch of Pharmacy First, a snapshot poll by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has suggested.

The survey of almost 100 NPA members also saw almost a third (31%) finding the new service ‘harder to implement’ than they had expected.

Over 10,000 pharmacies across the country had signed up to offer common conditions service at the time of its launch on 31 January, and around 3,000 consultations are believed to have been delivered within its first three days.

The NPA’s poll, carried out at the end of the first full week of Pharmacy First, saw around nine in 10 (87%) of members reporting that ‘most or all patients expressed satisfaction’ with the service they received.

Over half (56%) of respondents said they felt ‘motivated’ by the new service, however a larger proportion (70%) said they felt ‘under additional pressure’.

Other findings saw 20% of NPA members report that their pharmacy had scheduled windows of time throughout the day for Pharmacy First consultations, in order to maintain the core pharmacy service.

Meanwhile, some 56% said they would like to ‘offer more NHS advice and treatment’ through the service.

NPA chair, Nick Kaye, said: ‘After just a few days, it is already apparent that pharmacies in England are delivering important benefits though Pharmacy First.

‘Our poll shows that implementing the service is by no means easy.’

He added: ‘We commend our members for their efforts and their agility in making this an initial success, despite the challenges of introducing new processes and managing overall workflow in the pharmacy, not to mention the excruciating funding situation.’

The service, first announced within the primary care recovery plan in 2023, enables pharmacists to supply treatment, including antibiotics where clinically appropriate, for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women, under a nationally commissioned patient group direction (PGD).

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has been awarded £2.4m by the National Institute for Health and Care Research to monitor the service, including its implications for antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.