Contractors, employed and locum pharmacists are being asked whether they feel ready to launch Pharmacy First at the end of this month.

Community Pharmacy England (CPE) has released a survey asking contractors about their opinions about the service.

Meanwhile the Pharmacists’ Defence Association has also released its own survey assessing the feelings of employed and locum pharmacists.

In its survey, CPE has asked owners of independent and non-CCA multiples whether they have signed up or are planning to sign up to the service, as well as whether they have a positive or negative attitude towards Pharmacy First.

Pharmacy owners are also being polled on how time consuming and straightforward they have found preparations for the service, as well as what further resources they would find useful.

CPE has also asked contractors how they feel Pharmacy First will impact overall pharmacy funding, workload, staff competence, patient demand and development of IT functionality.

The CPE survey has also been sent to the head offices of CCA multiples.

But the PDA has raised concerns that despite representing employed and locum pharmacists, it was not involved in the development or planning for Pharmacy First.

In a statement published on Friday, it added that since the 31 January launch of the service was announced in mid-November, ‘many PDA members have raised concerns about potential issues with how, and when it is being introduced’.

The PDA has asked pharmacists working in the community sector in England to complete its own survey by 14 January to help inform its activity.

In a snapshot survey carried out by The Pharmacist in August and September 2023, six in 10 community pharmacists respondents said they believed that they have the capacity to deliver a common conditions service in England this winter.

Out of a small sample size of 143 respondents, we recorded little variation between the sentiments of contractors, employed and locum pharmacists.

Former pharmacy minister Steve Brine told The Pharmacist in October that he had ‘no concerns’ around the implementation of the service, despite ongoing pressures on the sector.

But in December, senior NHS England officials revealed that they were not confident IT solutions would be in place for the planned 31 January rollout.

Pallavi Dawda, head of delivery, clinical strategy, community pharmacy at NHS England told attendants at a CPE webinar last month that while ‘at the moment we’ve got nothing to suggest that it isn’t on track’, contingency plans were being worked up in case the deadline was missed.

CPE also recently suggested that the reduction in Category M reimbursement outlined in the January drug tariff could ‘hamper’ the successful launch of Pharmacy First in England.

And the chief pharmaceutical officer (CPhO) for England has warned that pharmacy teams will experience challenging circumstances over the coming weeks and months.