From September 2026 newly qualified pharmacists will enter the General Pharmaceutical Council register as independent prescribers. There are also many training and education initiatives funded through the NHS England Pharmacy Integration Fund that support the existing community pharmacy workforce to expand their scope of practice, such as independent prescribing and clinical skills training for pharmacists.
Introducing independent prescribing as part of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework (CPCF) will mean pharmacist training and clinical service delivery can be used to work towards an integrated workforce model in primary care (subject to funding and negotiation). It will allow the development and implementation of integrated clinical services that enables Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) to commission pathways that widen access to care and tackle health inequalities by using the unique footprint that community pharmacy creates in local neighbourhoods.
The NHS Community Pharmacy Independent Prescribing Pathfinder Programme aims to establish a framework for the future commissioning of NHS community pharmacy clinical services that incorporate independent prescribing for patients in primary care.
- Recognition that using the skills and workforce capabilities of pharmacist prescribers and enhanced pharmacy technician roles would enable independent prescribers to support patients with access to treatment.
- To support the Fuller Stocktake report’s vision for transforming access to services, improving experience for patients with long term conditions and preventing ill health through integration with neighbourhood teams.
- To build on the ‘Delivery plan for recovering access to primary care’ that proposes to expand the role of community pharmacy by supporting common conditions through delivery of a Pharmacy First service and expand the NHS Community Pharmacy Blood Pressure Check Service and the NHS Pharmacy Contraception Advanced Service.
- To ensure we maximise opportunities for service delivery available from 2026 when newly qualified pharmacists will enter the General Pharmaceutical Council register as independent prescribers and create the opportunity to train undergraduate and foundation programme trainee pharmacists as independent prescribers within the community pharmacy sector.
- To establish a community pharmacy independent prescribing programme of work that will inform the development of a framework for the future commissioning of NHS community pharmacy clinical services incorporating independent prescribing for patients in primary care within the agreed timetable.
- To establish pathfinder sites across England to identify and test the delivery of pharmacist independent prescribing.
- To identify the optimal processes, including governance, reimbursement, and digital requirements, required to enable NHS commissioned independent prescribing services in community pharmacy.
- To inform the development of assurance processes for professional and clinical service standards that support independent prescribing activities in the context of NHS community pharmacy services.
- To inform the professional development needs of community pharmacists and wider workforce strategy for pharmacy professionals in primary care.
- To inform the post 2019-2024 CPCF clinical strategy.
- To inform the ICB delegation responsibilities needed to support national and local commissioning of community pharmacy clinical services that may include access to independent prescribing services.
- To undertake appropriate local and national quantitative and qualitative evaluation and research, including patient experience and the experience of community pharmacy, general practice, community services and secondary care teams with a view to establishing safe and effective community pharmacy clinical services incorporating independent prescribing for patients in primary care.
This programme will be commissioned as a local enhanced service. ICBs will commission pathfinder sites to test the delivery of community pharmacy pharmacist independent prescribing across a range of clinical models via a service level agreement. The service specification for the clinical models will be developed by ICBs and will be available with the service level agreement. ICBs will work with pathfinder sites to agree the clinical models that will be delivered.
Pharmacy contractors need to register and complete a declaration before taking part in the programme. Pharmacy contractors can only register if they:
- are invited to take part by their local ICB
- agree to meet the service level agreement and service specification provided to them by their local ICB
- agree to the terms of the National Data Sharing Arrangement for GP Connect found here