No need to wait for a GP appointment with the Pharmacy First Service

Date published: 31 October 2023

Patients across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to use the Pharmacy First service at their local chemist for a range of everyday health conditions.

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The Pharmacy First Everyday Health Conditions service offers advice and treatment for a range of conditions such as acne, diarrhoea, headlice and thrush.

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can offer advice and treatment options for common conditions or refer patients on to other healthcare professionals as appropriate.

Patients can visit every pharmacy in Northern Ireland where they will receive a consultation with a pharmacist. Community pharmacies are more likely to be open in the evening and at weekends, and no appointments are necessary to speak to a pharmacist.

Last year, over 150,000 people used the Pharmacy First service for one of 13 conditions.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Professor Cathy Harrison said: “Community pharmacies are an integral part of the Health Service, delivering services at the heart of the community. Pharmacy First allows patients to consult with a highly-trained professional without having to wait. This relieves pressures on other in-demand care providers such as GPs or Emergency Departments.

“The Health Service is under pressure now more so than ever before. Pharmacy First is part of a planned, coordinated and consistent approach to mitigate the burden on healthcare trusts and staff this winter.”

More information about the Pharmacy First service can be found on the HSC NI website.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Pharmacy First is available in all local pharmacies across Northern Ireland.
  2. No appointment is necessary, patients can simply request a consultation with a pharmacist.
  3. For more information about the Pharmacy First service, please visit the HSC NI website.
  4. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by e-mail  
  5. Follow us on X @healthdpt and linkedIn Department of Health NI | LinkedIn
  6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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