Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland will provide a Pharmacy First service again this winter to encourage patients to contact their local chemist for treatment and advice on a range of common winter conditions.

The Pharmacy First service is a winter initiative by the health service which enables patients to have a consultation virtually or in a private area with their local community pharmacist.

Pharmacists can offer advice and treatment for common conditions like sore throat and common colds, recommend treatment and refer patients to other healthcare professionals as appropriate.

Patients can call into a community pharmacy for a consultation, but for infection control purposes, it is preferable if they ring the pharmacy first for advice.  They can then have a consultation with the pharmacist over the phone, a video call or go to the pharmacy in person. Remote consultations will also be available for those who are vulnerable, patients who are continuing to shield, and those isolating due to COVID-19, who are unable to get medical advice for winter and COVID care.

Anyone experiencing any COVID symptoms such as high temperature, continuous cough or loss of taste or smell should NOT go into the pharmacy.

Last winter, over 8000 consultations per month were offered to patients.  92% of people who used the service previously said they felt more confident about managing their cold or sore throat after speaking to their community pharmacist.

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