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NHS pharmacy services explained

Q&A about the New Medicine Service (NMS)

If you are prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition for the first time, you may be able to get extra help and advice about your medicine from your local pharmacist through a free scheme called the New Medicine Service (NMS).

People often have problems when they start a new medicine. As part of the scheme, the pharmacist will support you over several weeks to use the medicine safely and to best effect.

The service is only available to people using certain medicines. In some cases where there is a problem and a solution cannot be found between you and the pharmacist, you will be referred back to your doctor.

How will I know if I'm eligible?

The service is only available for people living in England, and only for those who have been prescribed a new medicine for the conditions listed:

How do I join the scheme?

When you take your new prescription to your local pharmacy, ask the pharmacist if you can take part in the service.

How does the new service work?

Start your medicine

You can talk to the pharmacist when you first start taking your medicine and ask any questions you may have about it. For example, you might want to know about side effects or how you can fit your treatment around your lifestyle.

Your second appointment

You will have a follow-up appointment two weeks later, when you and your pharmacist can talk about any issues you might have experienced with the medicine. For example, if you are not taking it regularly or are finding a tablet hard to swallow, your pharmacist can help you get back on track and find work with you to find solutions to any issues.

Your third appointment

You will have your last appointment a fortnight later, when you can catch up with your pharmacist again to see how you are getting on. The service then ends, but your pharmacist will always talk to you about your medicines when you need help.

Do I have to talk about my medicines over the counter in the pharmacy?

Any pharmacist providing the New Medicine Service must have a private consultation area. This is a separate room where you can't be overheard, and around 85% of pharmacies have one.

All the discussions with your pharmacist can take place in person or by phone.

How long will each appointment take?

The appointments are designed to fit around you, but a typical consultation will take around 10 to 15 minutes.

Do I have to pay?

No. This service is free through the NHS.


The 2 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

sam82 said on 22 December 2012


Just a few points on your post:

the pharmacy probably thought the aspirin was new according to their records, which it clearly isn't, they should have asked you beforehand if it was new. The service requires a signature in person from yourself so you shouldn't have been enroled into the service, more likely is the pharmacy were simply advertising its availability.

Regarding the ordering of your prescriptions it is hard to comment since systems vary widely form area to area and pharmacy to pharmacy, my advice would be to talk to your pharmacist and ask them to explain the system they are using to you. It is very possible that you do not require the white copy of your prescriptions anymore.

hope this helps.

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robanty said on 20 December 2012

My chemist has given me a copy of a 'consent to participate in NHS new medicine service'. It has been signed by 'telephone'.

I have not asked for it.
I rang up to find out what it is for and was told it concerns my new medicine, low dose aspirin that I have been taking for about 5 years and they want to help me.

I asked why they do not now include a copy of my prescription from the Doctor when they deliver my drugs and they say they keep it now.

I have been sending my prescription online direct to my Doctor for a couple of years but last week the surgery stopped this service without any notice and I was then forced to take my copy prescription to the surgery for a repeat prescription which I cannot now do without a copy scrip.

Is this all part of the New NHS scheme? I see it as a retrograde step myself

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Page last reviewed: 17/11/2015

Next review due: 17/11/2017

Pharmacy services: New Medicine Service (NMS)

If you are prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition for the first time, you may be able to get extra help and advice about your medicine from your local pharmacist through a new free scheme called the New Medicine Service (NMS).

Media last reviewed: 18/06/2015

Next review due: 18/06/2017