a stay well campaign posterFebruary 12 2018

A new campaign is urging parents to consult a pharmacist first if their child has a minor illness, instead of visiting the GP or A&E.

NHS England’s ‘Stay Well Pharmacy’ campaign was launched today (February 12), and highlights new research which has found that only 6% of parents of children under the age of 5 would visit the pharmacy for a minor health concern. More than a third (35%) would opt for an appointment with their GP while 5% of those questioned would choose emergency care as their first point of call.

“This is despite an overwhelming majority of adults (79%) saying they are aware that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can give advice on most common illnesses which includes when and where to seek advice for more serious conditions,” said NHS England. It estimates that around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions, costing the NHS more than £850 million each year.

The survey found:

  • only 16% adults questioned would get advice from the pharmacist for minor health concerns, and only 6% of parents of young children would do so;
  • 77% of people agree they trust advice from their pharmacist;
  • 26% feel it is difficult to discuss health concerns in private with a pharmacist, with many not being aware that more than nine out of 10 pharmacies have a private consultation room;
  • 24% feel they would need to visit the GP anyway, so go direct to the doctor in the first instance.

However, NHS England found that “among adults who have received advice from a pharmacist in the past six months for themselves or their child, two thirds (66%) found it useful and less a fifth (19%) needed to go to the GP afterwards.”

Three key symptoms will be the focus of the campaign:

  • sore throats;
  • coughs and colds;
  • tummy problems.

Promotional activity includes a new social media activity and a national television advert, as well as “a new short humorous video featuring children in ‘real life adult situations’ encouraging people to use the pharmacy.” Pharmacies can download promotional materials via Public Health England’s website. The campaign runs until the end of March.

PSNC has worked with other pharmacy organisations to set up a webpage with resources to support the campaign. In addition, PSNC said: “The Healthcare Distribution Association has kindly agreed to distribute a branded toolkit to all pharmacies in England (multiples, small chain and independents) as part of their daily prescription medication deliveries. The toolkit should arrive w/c 12th February so pharmacy teams are asked to watch out for it arriving and start to use it immediately.”

Launching the campaign, Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England, said: “Pharmacists are highly trained NHS health professionals who are able to offer clinical advice and effective treatments for a wide range of minor health concerns right there and then. They can assess symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment or simply provide reassurance, for instance when a minor illness will get better on its own with a few days’ rest.

“However, if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need. We want to help the public get the most effective use of these skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week.”

Sandra Gidley, Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s England Board, said: “It is great to see a campaign putting pharmacists at the front of people’s minds when it comes to getting clinical advice and over the counter medicines for minor health concerns such as coughs, colds or tummy troubles. Pharmacists are healthcare experts and are the right people to see if you need clinical advice for a minor health concern.”

NHS England points out that the average cost of GP appointments is £31, and the average attendance at A&E costs £148. “Every £1 million saved could fund 270 more hip replacements and 1040 more cataract operations.”

PHE Stay Well Pharmacy resources (requires registration)          
PSNC announcement    
RPS announcement      
Stay Well This Winter campaign