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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

Right care, right place

Right care, right place

Right care, right place

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland offers expert help in the community.

People will be able to get healthcare advice and support to treat minor illnesses and common conditions in their local community following the launch of a new service.

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will allow community pharmacies to give people expert help for treating conditions such as sore throats, earache and cold sores, along with common clinical conditions such as Urinary Tract Infections. Pharmacy teams will offer advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams if required.

This new service will help people access the right care in the right place, without having to go to their GP practice or local Accident and Emergency Department for non-urgent treatment.

Everyone who is registered with a GP practice in Scotland, or who lives in Scotland, is encouraged to use their local pharmacy when they have a minor illness or common condition. Accident and Emergency Departments remain open for emergency care, with public health measures in place to protect staff and patients.


"COVID-19 pandemic people followed public health guidance closely and used their local pharmacy for medical advice and help."

“The launch of NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will make sure that people across Scotland can continue to do this. It gives access to the right care in the right place, getting medical support that is closer to home and often with no waiting time or appointments needed.

“While the NHS is there for all of us, we don’t all need to go to accident and emergency. For many of us, it is not the right place for the care we need. NHS Pharmacy First Scotland provides a local service, giving local access to healthcare help for many illnesses.

“In an emergency you should always call 999 or go to your nearest accident and emergency department. By continuing to do what we have been doing throughout this pandemic and accessing the right care in the right place, we continue to help our emergency teams and ensure accident and emergency provides the fastest and often lifesaving care for people when they really need it.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman

“NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an exciting service development for everyone. It recognises the role that the community pharmacy network can play in helping patients and the wider NHS team by ensuring people get the right care in the right place. Pharmacists, supported by their pharmacy teams, will be able to offer consultations for anyone with minor illnesses and provide the appropriate advice and support.

“We look forward to community pharmacy demonstrating its value with the Scottish public through this service and developing it further in years to come in line with the needs of the public and the NHS.”

Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland Martin Green

“NES are delighted to be underpinning this important service development by providing educational support for the community pharmacy teams - using online resources, national webinars, and facilitating peer discussion forums with experts within the Boards.

“In addition, we have provided a quick reference guide sent to all community pharmacies, and education and training to support common clinical conditions will continue to be a focus as the service expands.”

Postgraduate Pharmacy Dean at NHS Education for Scotland (NES) Anne Watson


More information on NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is available online and on NHS Inform from 29 July 2020.

The 2019/19 Programme for Government included a commitment to develop and implement a redesigned minor ailment and common conditions service available to all. NHS Pharmacy First Scotland will provide support for people living in Scotland, those registered with a Scottish GP Practice, residents in care homes and care settings, people who are experiencing homelessness and gypsy travellers. The service is supported by £10 million investment over the next 3 years.

To help keep everyone safe, the public are being asked to seek medical advice online at NHS inform, call NHS 24, speak with their GP practice or contact their local pharmacy or minor injuries unit who can also help and prescribe treatment.

Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 should not attend A&E and must adhere to public health advice. They should contact the NHS to arrange to be tested - either online at NHS Inform, or by calling 0800 028 2816.

July, 28 2020