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Over 60 wheezes coughs or sneezesNovember 5 2014

NHS England’s latest public health campaign for the winter is encouraging people to seek pharmacy advice.

The ‘Under the weather campaign’ is targeted particularly at older people, those with existing respiratory conditions, and their carers. It aims to “nip health problems in the bud by seeking early advice” from their local pharmacist.

know someone over 60The £3 million campaign runs for six weeks and builds on the success of last winter’s campaign - ‘Earlier, Better’ which launched in January 2014 - and the evidence base for the urgent and emergency care review.

“Every year the NHS sees a huge increase in numbers of emergency admissions to hospital over the colder months. Those with existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or bronchitis are particularly vulnerable, and for frailer and older people, even the common cold can become more serious,” says NHS England.

“Every winter, doctors and nurses see a big increase in the number of older and frail people who are admitted to hospital because of respiratory or other chronic conditions usually worsened by immobility, the cold and viral illnesses.”

The ‘Under the weather’ campaign says people should speak to a pharmacist about wheezes, coughs and sneezes, rather than leave it too late because they do not think it is serious enough or do not want to waste their pharmacist’s time.

Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for NHS England, said: “We would encourage people to seek help from their pharmacist when they first feel unwell rather than waiting until it becomes more serious.”

The campaign encourages more use of the self-care information about minor ailments and illnesses on a microsite on the NHS Choices website, as well as more use of the services and advice available in community pharmacies.

It will be promoted on bill boards, and on posters in phone kiosks, shopping centres and supermarkets, including sites near pharmacies. It will also be advertised in national newspapers, magazines, on the radio and on a range of websites.

over 60 feeling under the weather

Posters are also being sent to pharmacy services for display. Marketing material can also be downloaded from the NHS England website.

David Branford, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board Chair, said: “This initiative chimes with our own work promoting the contribution pharmacists can make to improving urgent care.

“Our own research on common ailment services shows that outcomes for patients treated at community pharmacies are just as good as for those treated at A&E or by GPs. Pharmacy treatment is also much less expensive with an estimated cost saving of £1.1bn to the NHS if all common ailments were to be treated at community pharmacies.

“The RPS believes that pharmacists should play a greater role when it comes to urgent and emergency care. This includes providing the right advice and treatment through a nationwide common ailment service, relieving pressure on the rest of the NHS not just during the winter months but all year round whilst maximising pharmacists’ clinical skills.”

Links:

NHS England campaign announcement

NHS Choices microsite

NHS England campaign marketing communications resources

RPS statement

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