Researchers receive £2.4 million to generate evidence on the new NHS Pharmacy First service

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Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have been awarded £2.4 million by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to develop evidence for the new National Health Service (NHS) Pharmacy First service.

The service was launched across England in January 2024 under the government’s NHS Primary Care Recovery Plan. From February 2024, participating pharmacies will be able to supply prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions: earache, complicated urinary tract infections in women, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, ringworm and infected insect bites, after consultation with a community pharmacist.

The research team will work in partnership with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and experts from the Universities of Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham, to assess the take-up, safety, equity, cost-effectiveness and acceptability of Pharmacy First. Implications for antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.

I am delighted to be leading this critical three-year Pharmacy First evaluation, where we will assess the impact of Pharmacy First on GPs and the wider NHS, pharmacy services and patients.

Our team has expertise in evaluating complex policy interventions, such as the last two UK Antimicrobial Resistance National Action Plans, so alongside specialist external colleagues, we will pay particular attention to the impact of Pharmacy First on antibiotic prescribing and resistance across the health system.”

Dr Rebecca Glover, Project Lead, Assistant Professor of Antimicrobial Resistance at LSHTM

During evaluation, research teams will work closely with co-researchers from historically marginalized-researched and medically-underserved communities. Their analysis will contribute to understanding the potential consequences of Pharmacy First for inequalities in access to health services and outcomes.

At LSHTM, Dr Glover will jointly lead the project with Professor Nicholas Mace, working with Drs Mirza Lalani, Agata Pacho and Stephen O’Neill.

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