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Pharmacy First service launched in Liverpool

12 Jan 2022

People in Liverpool can now get prescription medicines for certain conditions direct from a local pharmacy - without contacting their GP practice first.

Launched by NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Community Pharmacy Liverpool, Pharmacy First is a convenient, new NHS service that is now available across the city.

It allows people to walk straight into their nearest pharmacy and access prescription-only medicines for a number of minor conditions.

The service builds upon the popular Care at the Chemist scheme which is also available across Liverpool and allows pharmacists to provide a range of over-the-counter treatments for minor conditions – without having to see a doctor first.

Under Pharmacy First, people can now seek treatment for any of the following symptoms at a local pharmacy:

  • Sore throats
  • Urinary infections
  • Eye infections (conjunctivitis)
  • Oral thrush in babies
  • Bad cough or chest infection
  • Impetigo
  • Mild skin conditions such as dermatitis, mild eczema or insect bite reactions
  • Nappy rash
  • Other skin problems such as minor cuts, burns, and scalds

To start using the service, people can simply drop into their nearest pharmacy and ask about treatment for any of these conditions under ‘Pharmacy First’.

All treatment provided under Pharmacy First will be completely free for people who don’t pay for their prescriptions, and charged at the normal prescription rate for those who do. 

Matt Harvey, Chief Officer for Community Pharmacy Liverpool said:

“Pharmacy First is a really exciting development for pharmacies and for patients in Liverpool, as it means that many people will be able to get treatment for minor health problems more quickly and easily, without needing to wait for a GP appointment first.”

“A pharmacist will simply ask a few quick questions, and as long as a patient meets the specified criteria and hasn’t recently been prescribed treatment for the same thing already, they’ll be able to offer access to it there and then – no prescription required.”

For conditions that may require treatment with antibiotics such as a cough or chest infection, a quick FebriDx® finger-prick test will also be taken to confirm whether an infection is viral or bacterial, since antibiotics are only useful for treating bacterial infections.

Dr Fiona Lemmens, a local GP and Chair of NHS Liverpool CCG said:

Using Pharmacy First can be a really fast, easy and convenient alternative to visiting your local GP Practice or NHS Walk-in Centre for treatment and advice for certain common conditions.

Not only that, but using the service will also help to free up GP appointments for patients with more complex health problems that can’t be dealt with in a pharmacy setting – so the launch of Pharmacy First really will benefit lots of unwell people in our city this winter.”

Although Pharmacy First doesn’t cover treatment for every common symptom, those experiencing other minor ailments are still being encouraged to seek advice from a pharmacist in the first instance too.

Local pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can provide lots of helpful advice on treating a wide range of minor illnesses and injuries – and many of them are conveniently open from early until late, as well as over weekends.

Although most people will be able to be treated under Pharmacy First, those with recurring symptoms or who have already recently received treatment for the same condition, may not be eligible for treatment through the scheme.

This is because a recurring problem may indicate that further medical investigation is needed by a GP.

People should also be aware that this offer is commissioned by NHS Liverpool CCG and is only available in Liverpool-based pharmacies. 

For more information about Pharmacy First, please ask a member of staff in your local pharmacy.