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Community Pharmacy Settings

There are over 10,000 community pharmacies in England providing accessible healthcare alongside the dispensing of medicines.

Community pharmacists are experts in medicines and managing minor illnesses.

Community pharmacies are well used and trusted by their local communities. They provide a range of healthcare services including helping people to get the most benefit from their medicines and to lead healthier lives.

Pharmacists continue to keep their knowledge up to date during their career by undertaking continuing professional development.

Community pharmacy operates on a contractor model similar to other primary care providers such as general practice. This means community pharmacies are usually independent businesses contracted by the NHS to provide certain services (see below) for local populations.

The community pharmacy contractual framework with the NHS (CPCF) outlines levels and types of services that are provided by community pharmacies. In addition to nationally agreed services, there may also be locally commissioned services.

Benefits of community pharmacists

Community pharmacists are highly skilled healthcare professionals and are the only healthcare professional who are readily accessible without a pre-arranged appointment. This represents a significant benefit to patients and means that often the community pharmacist will be the first point of contact for advice relating to a health or medication related problem or query. In many cases, the community pharmacist will be able to recommend a solution that does not require the patient to see their doctor or attend another healthcare setting.

Future vision of community pharmacy

The community pharmacy workforce will continue to provide the core services related to medication supply and medication safety. However, there are a few transformational changes on the horizon which are likely to influence the broadening of clinical services delivery within the community pharmacy setting. This includes integrated and collaborative working with PCNs, secondary care colleagues and ICBs to deliver prescribing services such as management of minor ailments as well as long term conditions, targeted health checks to ensure early detection of preventable diseases and reduce health inequalities. Pharmacies will continue to provide open access to highly skilled pharmacy professionals; however, some services will require an appointment-based approach with utilisation of digital technologies to maintain access and provide enhanced patient centred care.

Please click here for further detail on the future vision of community pharmacy.

Latest Development: NHS Pharmacy First Service

The new NHS Pharmacy First advanced service launched on Wednesday 31 January 2024 and will enable community pharmacists to complete episodes of care for patients without the need for the patient to visit their general practice. This, alongside expansions to the pharmacy blood pressure checking and contraception services, will save up to 10 million general practice team appointments a year and help patients access quicker and more convenient care, including the supply of appropriate medicines for minor illness. 

The Pharmacy First Service builds on the previous Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) by enabling community pharmacies to manage patients for seven common conditions, following specific clinical pathways. The overall service consists of three core elements: 

  1. Pharmacy First (clinical pathways) – new element 

  1. Pharmacy First (urgent repeat medicine supply) – previously commissioned as the CPCS. 

  1. Pharmacy First (NHS referrals for minor illness) – previously commissioned as the CPCS. 

For further information please see the NCL GP website Community Pharmacy services page and the NHS England Community Pharmacy advanced service specification.

For information on relevant training materials for community pharmacy teams, please see the following links: 

Get ahead for Pharmacy First with NHS funded training

 Pharmacy First is here – build your pharmacy future with fully funded, flexible training tailored to your skills, experience and individual learning requirements.  

Learn new skills, support peer development and expand your clinical knowledge.  

Courses include: 

 ·       Clinical Examination Skills and Independent Prescribing for Community Pharmacists. 

·       Advancing your role for Community Pharmacy Technicians 

·       Educational Supervisor Training for Community Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians 

 Find out more and apply now


Watch the videos below to find out more about working in community pharmacy.

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NCL's Pharmacy workforce can access the NCL Primary Care Pharmacy Network, which provides peer to peer support for those working in primary care organisations across NCL.

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