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Health Secretary visits Boots pharmacy to celebrate the launch of the NHS Pharmacy First Service

01 February 2024
News Healthcare

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has visited a Boots store in central London to speak to its pharmacy team and celebrate the launch of the NHS Pharmacy First Service.

At the Covent Garden store, Ms Atkins spoke with Boots team members including pharmacist Kee Lim about how the scheme will help patients, pharmacy teams and GPs.

As part of the NHS Pharmacy First Service, Boots stores in England now offer access to advice and treatment, including some prescription-only medicines for seven common conditions.

Speaking during the visit to Boots, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “The very first customer walked through a Boots in North Humber at 08.31 this morning to use the service.

“The more that we can help people understand that for those seven conditions they can pop to their pharmacy, the sooner we will see a real change to GP appointments.

“It’s great news for us as patients, but it’s also great news for pharmacists and GPs because, not only are we using the expertise of pharmacists to the top of their licence, but we will also through this scheme free up to 10 million GP appointments each year.”

From yesterday, patients do not need a GP appointment or prescription to get treatment for sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, or an uncomplicated urinary tract infection in women.*

Instead, they can go to their local Boots store where they can speak to a pharmacist, who can provide advice and treatment if appropriate. This may be an over-the-counter medicine or a prescription-only medicine, depending on the clinical needs of the patient. If the patient needs additional support, the pharmacist will refer them to a GP or another healthcare provider.

No appointment is needed and most Boots stores offer a private consultation room in the pharmacy area for confidential discussions about patients’ health concerns. 

*Subject to availability, eligibility criteria and NHS prescription charges may apply.


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Boots is the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer with over 52,000 team members and 2,100 stores, ranging from local community pharmacies to large destination health and beauty stores.*

Boots serves its customers and patients for life as the leading provider of healthcare on the high street and the UK’s number one beauty destination. It offers an unrivalled depth and breadth of products, which incorporates its extensive own brand range and innovative portfolio of brands, including No7, the UK’s No1 skincare brand, Soap & Glory, Liz Earle Beauty and Sleek MakeUP.

2024 marks Boots’ 175th anniversary year. Founder John Boot opened a herbalist store in Nottingham in 1849 to offer an affordable alternative to traditional medicines. His son Jesse expanded the business to become a modern retailer and the biggest chemist in Britain. Throughout its history, Boots has listened, learned and innovated, and it continues to challenge itself to improve its products and services every day.

Boots is part of Walgreens Boots Alliance, which is a global leader in pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing retail.  More company information is available on

*Figures accurate as of 30 November 2023