Pharmacy First Update letter 14th March 2022 HSCB Correspondence

The existing Minor Ailments (MA) Service will now become part of the Pharmacy First Service.

Research has shown that GPs can spend up to 40% of their working day dealing
with minor ailments. Whilst this may be entirely appropriate for some patients, for the majority it is an inconvenient and inefficient way of getting help for these conditions.

Pharmacies are well placed within communities and are essentially an ‘open door’ to the Health Service offering free independent health advice without the need for an appointment. One of the services that community pharmacists are trained to provide is the treatment of minor ailments. When a patient presents at a pharmacy with symptoms of a minor ailment, the pharmacist establishes if the symptoms are indeed minor in which case the pharmacist can offer advice and, if necessary, recommend appropriate treatment. If the symptoms are of a more serious nature, the pharmacist will refer the patient to another healthcare professional.

The service was introduced to Northern Ireland in 2005, and referral into the service includes referral from GP practices, the community pharmacist or self-referral by the patient. Using this service the pharmacist can supply advice or advice and medicines for treatment of certain ailments, to suitable patients. Patients are not charged for this service.

Provision of a Pharmacy First Service through community pharmacies:

  • Encourages patients to self-treat minor ailments
  • Supports the use of pharmacy as a first point of call for health advice allowing pharmacists to make more use of their clinical skills
  • Improves patient access to treatment without the need to contact their GP practice
  • Provides an alternative to a GP consultation for minor ailments, allowing GPs more time for patients with more complex medical needs
  • Benefits other parts of the healthcare service particularly Emergency departments and Out-Of-Hours medical services (OOHs)

The ECHO training session which was delivered live on Monday 21st February was recorded and is now available on the ECHO Moodle site. This recording must be viewed by all pharmacists prior to service delivery. Pharmacists must be registered with EHCO to view the recording.

The link to registration is . There is also a short video available here to assist with registration. Any problems please contact Elaine Kane at Tel: 028 95582393.

Further correspondence in relation to the commencement date of the EHC service will be issued in due course.

A CPNI training webinar will be available shortly.

Pharmacy First Service Update Pharmacy First: Community Pharmacy ECHO Session 28th September 2021 Siobhan O’Hare-Smith HSCB Pharmacy Adviser

Privacy Notice October 2021

Pharmacy First Service Update 31st March 2021

This pilot service has been available in 62 pilot pharmacies across NI since July 2021. Evaluation of the service is currently underway. Feedback from pharmacists, GP practices and service users has been very positive. It is anticipated that this service will be rolled-out across all community pharmacies later this year (2022) following positive evaluation and financial approval.

Service Documentation


The Winter Conditions Service 2021/22 ended on 31st March 2022

See CPNI CU#220329D: Pharmacy First Winter Conditions Cessation

Contact Details for Local (HSCB) Integrated Care Offices: 

Belfast South Eastern Southern Northern Western
12-22 Linenhall Street Belfast
12-22 Linenhall Street Belfast
Tower Hill
BT61 9DR
County Hall
182 Galgorm Road
Ballymena BT42 1QB
Gransha Park House
15 Gransha Park Clooney Road
Londonderry BT47 6FN
Tel: 028 9536 3926 Tel: 028 9536 3926 Tel: 028 9536 2104 Tel: 028 9536 2812 Tel: 028 9536 1082