£2.4m funding to evaluate NHS Pharmacy First service

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

NIHR awards funding to LSHTM researchers to assess impact, safety and effectiveness of new NHS England Pharmacy First service

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

The service 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, uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles and infected insect bites, after consultation with a community pharmacist.

The research team will work in partnership with experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, and Nottingham, to evaluate Pharmacy First's take-up, safety, equity, cost effectiveness and acceptability, as well as its implications for antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance.

The project lead, Dr Rebecca Glover, Assistant Professor in Antimicrobial Resistance at LSHTM, said:

"I am delighted to lead this complex three-year Pharmacy First evaluation, where we will evaluate Pharmacy First's impact 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 expert external colleagues, we will pay particular attention to the impact of Pharmacy First on antibiotic prescribing and resistance across the health system."

Throughout the evaluation, the research teams will work closely with co-researchers who are from historically-marginalised-in-research and medically-underserved communities. Their analysis will contribute to understanding of 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 Mays, working alongside Drs Mirza Lalani, Agata Pacho, and Stephen O'Neill.

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