Local Watford MP Dean Russell visited Cassiobury Pharmacy in Langley Way, Watford to discover more about the Pharmacy First service that went live from last week. People across Watford can pop down to their local pharmacy for help with seven minor conditions, which would previously have required a GP appointment.
Earlier this year, 75% of people said they wanted to see pharmacies offering more healthcare services such as treating urinary tract infections or sore throats, and now they will be. Almost all pharmacies will offer the new service, giving advice and, if needed, NHS medicines, to treat seven common health conditions – and all without needing to get a GP appointment. This ends the 8am rush to get seen by the doctor and frees up millions of slots, meaning those who genuinely need to see a GP can do so more quickly, helping to continue to drive down wait times.
As experts in medicines and managing minor illnesses, pharmacists have been backed by Government and the NHS to provide a new NHS ‘Pharmacy First’ service. 27 pharmacies across Watford have signed up to support people in certain age groups seeking help for sore throats, earache in children, sinusitis, infected insect bites, impetigo, shingles, and urinary tract infections in women.
Dean Russell MP encourages residents that have symptoms that may suggest you may have one of these conditions, to walk into a pharmacy and be offered a consultation with the pharmacist. Under the new service, pharmacists can provide advice and, if clinically necessary, offer an NHS medicine to treat it (NHS prescription charge applies if you normally pay for medicines supplied on prescription). Should the pharmacy team be unable to help, you will be directed to another local community pharmacy practice, your GP surgery or A&E as appropriate.
Cassiobury Pharmacy is one of several independent pharmacies run by Chemilab Ltd, a family business operating across Watford since 1985. It’s a prime example of how pharmacies are adapting to support the NHS. During his visit, Dean witnessed first-hand how the pharmacy team is at the heart of the community and provides support for the new ‘Pharmacy First’ service.
By thinking ‘Pharmacy First’, people will find it easier and quicker to get the help they need and bypass the 8am rush to book an appointment with their GP. Dean has been consistently vocal about community pharmacies, advocating for them to be given the support they need to undertake key services that would help to free up the wider NHS. The new service is part of a wider expansion of healthcare services that will empower pharmacists to use more of their skills and give people more choice about their healthcare. It is also hoped that the service will be expanded to include more conditions in the future. Find the new service at a pharmacy near you using the NHS website.
Girish Mehta, Managing Director of Chemilab group of Pharmacies who has served as a community pharmacist in Kingswood, Garston since the 1980s, said:
“Community pharmacies are the most accessible healthcare locations; they offer convenient access to medicines and a range of services without the need for an appointment. My team and I are delighted to be able to offer more support than ever before to the local community. Patients can get help quickly and easily, GP surgery queues will be reduced, and my team of Pharmacists and I can put our clinical skills to good use. It is a win all round. Pharmacists are the experts on the use of medicines and should be the first port of call if you are feeling unwell. Use them to your benefit and ease the burden on other service providers. Patients value the convenience of receiving support and advice from a healthcare professional within their local pharmacy.”
Helen Musson, Chief Officer of Community Pharmacy Hertfordshire, who attended Dean’s visit to Cassiobury Pharmacy, said:
“This new service will give the public more choice about where and when they can access help with minor health conditions. However, it is important to ensure that pharmacies are fully supported as patient behaviour changes and more people visit pharmacies as their first port of call for their common healthcare needs.”
Dean Russell MP for Watford, who also praised this new service and paid tribute to Watford’s hardworking Pharmacists in the House of Commons this week, said:
“Watford’s pharmacies play a pivotal role in ensuring the health and well-being of our community and serve patients from local parades across our town. They are often the first point of contact for many individuals seeking health advice and medical services and all work hard to keep the community well. This new service will make it so much easier for people to access the healthcare advice and support they need, when they need it. Pharmacists are medicines experts and members of the public should feel assured that the healthcare advice they receive from pharmacists and their teams will be second to none. With all the pressures across the NHS, it’s our responsibility to direct our requests for help to the right place. For common minor illnesses, we should all be thinking ‘Pharmacy First’.
“I am grateful for the dedication of our local pharmacists and their unwavering support for the health of residents in Watford. Not only will this be a welcome service for local residents, but also the pharmaceutical industry itself, which is one of the biggest employers in Watford and is a sector I am only too happy to support.
“Since acquiring this pharmacy practice in 1996, Cassiobury residents have continually supported this local business, run by Chemilab Ltd, due in part to the strong sense of community within the estate and the excellent service delivered by the Pharmacy team led by Mr Ash Shah. It was a pleasure to visit the practice and meet the team today. I wish them well!”
Notes to Editors
About Chemilab Limited
Chemilab Limited is a local family-run company of community pharmacies in Watford. Chemilab Limited owns and operates Chemilab Pharmacy on North Approach in Garston, Cassiobury Pharmacy on Langley Way in Cassiobury, Leavesden Pharmacy on Katherine Place in Abbots Langley, Abbey Pharmacy on the High Street in Abbots Langley and Abbotswood Pharmacy on Cunningham Way in Leavesden.
About Community Pharmacy Hertfordshire
About the Pharmacy First service
- The Pharmacy First service enables members of the public to visit pharmacies as a first port of call for help with a range of common minor conditions.
- The service enables pharmacists to offer advice to patients and supply NHS medicines (including antibiotics), where clinically appropriate, for:
- Sinusitis – for children and adults aged 12 years and over;
- Sore throat – for children and adults aged 5 years and over;
- Earache (Acute otitis media) – for children aged 1 to 17 years;
- Infected insect bite – for children and adults aged 1 year and over;
- Impetigo – for children and adults aged 1 year and over;
- Shingles – for adults aged 18 years and over; and
- Uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women aged 16 to 64 years.
- It is hoped that the service will be expanded to include more conditions in the future.
- In the consultations with a pharmacist, people with symptoms suggestive of the seven conditions will be provided with advice and be supplied, where clinically necessary, with a prescription-only treatment under a Patient Group Direction (PGD) or a pharmacy only medicine.
- If the pharmacy team cannot help with the condition the patient is presenting with, they will be referred to the appropriate healthcare access point, such as a GP surgery or A&E.
- In addition to this, patients can continue to be able to access emergency prescription medicines or consultations on other minor conditions where they have been referred to the pharmacy by NHS 111, their GP surgery or other settings.
- The Pharmacy First service launched on 31 January 2024, but as it is an optional service so not all pharmacies will offer it. The NHS.uk website is adding a service finder to help people locate which pharmacies are providing it near them: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/. The NHS has launched a national patient information campaign to increase awareness of the service.