Pharmacy still underused for self care advice

Almost half of the nation wouldn't visit a pharmacy first for advice on managing minor ailments such as colds and coughs, according to a new report released for Self Care Week.

The Self Care Nation report, commissioned by PAGB, revealed that while 92 per cent of Britons recognise the importance of self care in reducing burdens on the NHS, 47 per cent wouldn't seek advice for common conditions at a pharmacy and 34 per cent would head straight to their GP.

Of those who wouldn’t visit their pharmacist in the first instance regarding self-treatable conditions, nearly one in five (18 per cent) said they didn’t think pharmacists were as qualified as GPs or hospital staff.

John Smith, PAGB chief executive commented: “Our research highlights a need to support people in feeling more confident about visiting the pharmacy for advice on self-treatable conditions.

"With 11,500 community pharmacies in England providing easy access to highly trained healthcare professionals without the need for an appointment, they are ideally placed to provide the advice people need while at the same time reducing pressures on stretched GP and A&E services.”

On a positive note, more than half of the 5,011 adults surveyed agreed that buying an OTC medicine would be cheaper than paying £8.40 for a prescription and 69 per cent agreed it was quicker to visit the pharmacy than wait for a GP appointment.

Furthermore, when people were made aware of the personal cost of self care compared to the financial impact to the NHS, almost a third (29 per cent) who qualified for free prescriptions said they would be willing to purchase an OTC medicine for a self-treatable condition. 

John Smith continued: “With GP and A&E services under increasing strain, empowering more people to self care, where appropriate, is more important than ever. However, we need to overcome the barriers to behaviour change through better education about the benefits of self care and ensuring people are consistently encouraged to take more responsibility for their health”.

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