Over 90% of community pharmacies in England have now signed up to provide the Pharmacy First service.

The service is due to commence on 31st January 2024, subject to the required IT systems being in place. A significant amount of work to get NHS, pharmacy and GP IT systems ready to support the service is still ongoing within NHS England, the NHSBSA and by IT system suppliers.

A decision on whether the necessary IT systems will be ready to support the launch of the service will be made shortly, with this being communicated by NHS England to pharmacy owners.

Choice of Pharmacy First IT system

NHS England is working with four IT system suppliers to assure their Pharmacy First systems, ensuring they are ready to support the service:

Positive Solutions
Sonar Informatics

The system suppliers are updating their existing NHS-assured IT support for the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) to incorporate the new elements of the Pharmacy First service and the additional IT functionality also being developed to support the service.

All pharmacies already providing the CPCS must be signed up to use one of these NHS-assured IT systems. Similarly, all pharmacies signing up to provide the Pharmacy First service must have an agreement in place to use one of the NHS-assured Pharmacy First IT systems.

Pharmacy owners therefore have a choice of either:

Continuing to use their CPCS IT system supplier for Pharmacy First IT support; or
Changing to another NHS-assured Pharmacy First IT system supplier.

The four CPCS IT system providers have all confirmed to us that any pharmacy’s contract to use a CPCS IT system will carry over to the supplier’s new Pharmacy First IT system at the commencement of the service, unless the pharmacy owner opts to use another supplier for Pharmacy First.

At last night’s Community Pharmacy England Pharmacy First webinar, NHS England advised pharmacy owners that to ensure that pharmacies will show as ‘live’ on the Directory of Services (DoS) from 31st January 2024*, they must:

Sign up to provide Pharmacy First on MYS; and
Sign up with an IT supplier

by Friday 19th January 2024.

DoS is used by NHS 111 to make referrals to pharmacies.

Those pharmacies that wish to continue to use their CPCS IT supplier for Pharmacy First will not need to sign up again with their IT supplier, so if they have registered to provide Pharmacy First on MYS by 19th January 2024, they will be set as live on DoS on 31st January 2024*.

Any pharmacy owners that wish to change their IT supplier, will need to do so, by contacting the new supplier and entering into a contractual agreement with them, by 19th January 2024 in order that their pharmacy will be set as live on DoS on 31st January 2024*.

Any pharmacies that sign up to provide Pharmacy First on MYS and have an existing IT contract in place or change their IT provider after 19th January 2024 will be set as live on DoS as soon as possible, but NHS England cannot guarantee that it will be in time for the start date for the service.

* assuming 31st January 2024 is the eventual start date for the service.

For further information on the service, visit our Pharmacy First webpage.

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