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NIHR awards £2.4m funding to LSHTM researchers to evaluate Pharmacy First service

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They will particularly focus on the impact of the new service on antibiotic prescribing and resistance across the health system

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have been tasked to evaluate the impact, safety and effectiveness of the Pharmacy First service, which was launched across England in January 2024.

They have been awarded £2.4million by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) to generate evidence on the new service that allows pharmacies to provide advice and treatment for seven common conditions without the need for a GP appointment.

After consultation, if necessary, a community pharmacist can supply some prescription-only medicines to treat earache, sore throat, sinusitis, impetigo, shingles, infected insect bites or uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.

The LSHTM researcher team will be working together with experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the Universities of Oxford, Manchester and Nottingham on the project.

Dr Rebecca Glover, assistant professor in Antimicrobial Resistance at LSHTM, who will lead the three-year project, said they 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,” she added.

At LSHTM, Dr Glover will be joined by Professor Nicholas Mays (co-lead), Drs Mirza Lalani, Agata Pacho, and Stephen O’Neill.

Their analysis will contribute to understanding of potential consequences of Pharmacy First for inequalities in access to health services and outcomes.

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