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NHS Education for Scotland

A skilled and sustainable workforce for a healthier Scotland

Supporting community pharmacies to deliver the right care

Supporting community pharmacies to deliver the right care

Supporting community pharmacies to deliver the right care

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) is the national health board responsible for the provision of education, training and workforce development for people who work in and with the NHS in Scotland. In Autumn 2019 Scottish Government asked NES Pharmacy, to provide education and training to support the launch and delivery of the new community pharmacy NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service.

What is NHS Pharmacy First Scotland?

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an NHS community pharmacy service that seeks to encourage people to go to their local pharmacy for support with minor and acute health conditions, thereby reducing the number of GP consultations and visits to Emergency Departments for minor health complaints. Pharmacy teams will offer advice, treatment or referral to other healthcare teams, if required.

It replaces the Minor Ailment Service which community pharmacies have delivered for more than ten years. It also forms part of the national community pharmacy contractual framework.

What we did

Scotland has nearly 1260 community pharmacies across all health board regions. That’s why it was important that pharmacists and their teams were trained and ready to offer consultations for anyone with minor illnesses and provide the appropriate advice, treatment and support.

Our NES Pharmacy team developed a range of learning resources to support community pharmacy staff and created a delivery schedule commencing Spring 2020 in consultation with Scottish Government, Community Pharmacy Scotland and NHSScotland boards. By early March and in the face of lockdown restrictions, it became apparent that delivery of face-to-face events was no longer sustainable. Instead the team worked swiftly to redesign and reschedule the educational content for online delivery ahead of confirmation of the revised launch date. This allowed sufficient time for community pharmacy teams to undertake the training and be available to support patients, through this new service, during the pandemic.

Turas Learn hosted all the resources and event bookings. These included an e-learning module, two national webinars and facilitated peer discussion events (face-to-face in spring and online in summer). They covered the contractual arrangements and specification for the new service. They also looked in detail at the actual day-to-day delivery of the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service. Community pharmacies in Scotland also received a quick reference guide (an electronic copy is available on Turas Learn).


The NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service e-learning module launched on 9 March 2020. It is core learning for all community pharmacists who practise in Scotland as detailed in Scottish Government circular PCA (P) (2020) 3.

Access the elearning modules

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland webinars

We broadcast two webinars on 17 March 2020 (before the original proposed April launch date) and on 25 June 2020 (before the revised launch date in July 2020). These webinars provided updated content to support the key messages contained in the e-learning. They also gave participants the opportunity to ask questions about the day-to-day-delivery of the service.

Each webinar had over 300 participants (321 in March and 351 in June). The recordings, hosted on Turas Learn, have had over 600 views. This highlighted the demand for training and support amongst the community pharmacy workforce in preparation for the service launching.

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland webinar

Local peer discussion events

As part of our Pharmacy Spring 2020 programme we scheduled a series of local peer discussion events in all health board areas. As a result of the pandemic we converted all these events to an online discussion format. We delivered them in July 2020 to support the amended launch date. The discussion events allowed dynamic question and answer sessions. Senior Specialist Tutors from our Pharmacy team chaired the events with support from Primary Care Community Pharmacy Leads and Community Pharmacy Champions.

Next Steps

We are currently investing the support required as follow up since the service went live. Future activities are likely to include help with the consultation process and a focus on a number of common clinical conditions. These will be live discussion events linked to new and existing e-learning material on Turas Learn.

Leon Zlotos, Principal Lead - Educational Development (Professional Development) said:

“We’re particularly proud of our Senior Specialist Tutors. They responded so quickly to adapt our education for online delivery. This helped ensure that community pharmacy teams across Scotland could access the education they needed in time for the launch of this new pharmacy service.”

Useful Links

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland: Information for patients

October, 14 2020