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)

Privacy Notice

Pharmacy First Service Update 31st October 2023

It has been confirmed that funding has been secured to allow the role out of a regional Pharmacy First Service for the management of uncomplicated UTI in women aged 16-64 years. The service will be offered by contracted community pharmacies from November 2023 until the end of March 2024 in the first instance.

Service Documentation


Service Promotion

Pharmacy First UTI pilot service evaluation

Pharmacy First UTI Pilot Evaluation Summary

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