NHS Pharmacy First Scotland: information for patients

NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is a NHS service designed to encourage everyone to visit their community pharmacy as the first port of call for all minor illnesses and specific common clinical conditions.

NHS Pharmacy first Scotland - Information for patients

What is NHS Pharmacy First Scotland?

  • NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is an NHS service provided by your local community pharmacy (a pharmacy with a contract to provide NHS prescriptions and services).
  • If you have a minor illness, a pharmacy is the first place you should go for advice.
  • You do not usually need an appointment and you can go to any pharmacy.
  • Your pharmacist can give you advice for a minor illness, and medicine if they think you need it.

Who is the service for?

You can use NHS Pharmacy First Scotland if you are registered with a GP practice in Scotland or you live in Scotland. Speak to the pharmacy team if you need further details.

How does the service work?

  • Pharmacists and their teams are experts in medicines and can help with minor health concerns.
  • A pharmacist can give you advice and treatment (if you need it) for minor illnesses such as the following.
    • Acne
    • Allergies
    • Athlete’s foot
    • Backache
    • Blocked or runny nose
    • Cold sores
    • Constipation
    • Cough
    • Cystitis (in women)
    • Diarrhoea
    • Earache
    • Eczema
    • Headache
    • Head lice
    • Haemorrhoids (piles)
    • Hay fever
    • Impetigo
    • Indigestion
    • Mouth ulcers
    • Sore throat
    • Pain
    • Period pain
    • Threadworms
    • Thrush
    • Warts
    • Verrucas
  • Pharmacists, like GPs, can only provide certain medicines and products on the NHS. All of these are proven to be effective for treating your condition. If you want a specific medicine or product, you may need to buy it. The pharmacist will give you advice on this.
  • If the pharmacist thinks it is better for you to see your GP, they may refer you directly or tell you to make an appointment.

How do I use the service?

  • NHS Pharmacy First Scotland is available from all pharmacies in Scotland that dispense NHS prescriptions.
  • You can choose which pharmacy to use.
  • In most cases, you don’t have to make an appointment.
  • When you visit the pharmacy, the pharmacist (or one of their team) will ask you for some information, including your name, date of birth and postcode.
  • The pharmacist will:
    • ask you about your symptoms;
    • give you advice on your condition;
    • provide medication (if you need it); and
    • refer you to another healthcare professional (for example, your GP) if they think this is necessary.
  • They will set up a Patient Medication Record (PMR) to make a note of any advice and treatment they give you.
  • You can ask to use the pharmacy’s consultation area or room if you want to speak to the pharmacist in private.

Can I still go to other pharmacies?

  • Yes, you can go to any pharmacy to buy medicines, collect prescriptions or use the NHS Pharmacy First Scotland service. You don’t need to always use the same one.
  • However, if you always use the same pharmacy, the pharmacist can build a record of your treatment, which may help you to manage your condition more effectively. (This record is not shared with anyone else.)

What if I’m unhappy with the service I have received from the pharmacy?

  • First, talk to the pharmacist so they can try to sort the matter out immediately.
  • If you can’t do this, or if you have already spoken to your pharmacist and are still unhappy, you can contact the feedback and complaints team at your local NHS health board. Contact details are given on the NHS Inform website

How to find out more

  • For more information about anything in this leaflet, contact:
  • your local pharmacy;
  • your doctor or a member of NHS staff involved in your care;
  • the NHS Inform helpline on 0800 22 44 88
    (calls from a landline are free), or NHS Inform website at
  • the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) on 0800 917 2127 or your local citizens advice bureau (find your nearest bureau on the website at www.cas.org.uk or in your local phone book).

This information is available on the Scottish Government website (www.gov.scot) and on the NHS Inform website (www.nhsinform.scot).


Email: pharmacyteam@gov.scot

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