Community pharmacists are now providing online access to Pharmacy First consultations for patients across England through the newly developed My Local Surgery platform.

The Pharmacy First service was launched by NHS England earlier this year. It enables community pharmacies to provide clinical consultancy and treatment for seven common conditions, rather than patients having to see their GP.

Unlike typical online pharmacy models, its services are being delivered by community pharmacies who have clinical capacity to support more patients. The platform connects pharmacists with patients seeking online appointments for six of the common conditions that patients can now see a pharmacist about, rather than their GP.

My Local Surgery’s founding team has brought together pharmacy, tech and clinical services expertise – including tech and logistics specialist Nav Ramiah, in partnership with community pharmacists Darren Lingaloo and Gulraj Dhillon, and Dr Adam Kirk who has worked in the NHS for almost three decades and is experienced in digital healthcare development.

Darren Lingaloo, co-founder and chief pharmacist at My Local Surgery, said: “The evolving role of pharmacists is long overdue and has the potential to save millions of GP appointments every year. 

“Many pharmacies are now investing in their consulting facilities and staff to deliver more clinical services to patients in their community and support the NHS Pharmacy First initiative. Those with additional clinical capacity will also now be able to provide online consultations to patients across England through My Local Surgery.

“The platform digitally connects community pharmacies with patients who are seeking help with the common ailments online.”

Revealing UK’s HealthTech 50 for 2024

Pharmacists from The Village Pharmacy, which operates pharmacies in Stubbington near Portsmouth and in Kent, have been the first to deliver online consultations via My Local Surgery. Darren Lingaloo is leading this clinical launch phase and supporting the rollout to other community pharmacies.

He added: “There’s huge digital demand for Pharmacy First appointments – My Local Surgery reached full capacity during our initial launch phase, and we are now preparing to scale.”

The platform allows registered pharmacists to allocate available time to appointment slots and matches them with patients seeking a digital Pharmacy First consultation. Patients are screened prior to their consultation and receive an appointment reminder via text or Whatsapp. 

It also allows secure sharing of photos to support the consultation if required, for cases of impetigo for example. The prescribing pharmacist dispenses the medication, which is delivered to the patient via an express 24-hour postal service.

Dr Adam Kirk, chief medical advisor at My Local Surgery added: “It’s designed to simplify access to healthcare. For the patient, it delivers a rapid service to treat common conditions. For community pharmacists, it’s providing the opportunity to use their clinical skills to support the growing demand for online consultations.”

As well as providing a secure digital space for NHS Pharmacy First consultations, My Local Surgery will be partnering with nurse prescribers and pharmacists to provide access to private consultations.

2024 HealthTech Insights report: Can tech tackle health inequalities?