A major new NHS-led public health campaign calls on parents to see a pharmacist for their child’s minor illnesses rather than going to a GP surgery or A&E unit.

The Stay Well Pharmacy campaign (launching Monday 12th February), which includes national TV advertising coverage and social media video content, promotes the message that parents can expert advice with greater convenience by visiting their local pharmacy.

Netmums editor in chief Annie O’Leary said the site would support the campaign to help parents look after their children’s health, adding: “We know convenience is key and parents should consider using the pharmacy team as their first port of call; after all, 95 per cent of the population is within easy reach of a local community pharmacy.”

NHS savings

NHS-commissioned research shows that at present just six per cent of parents with children under five would first think of a pharmacist when it came to treating their child’s minor health conditions, compared to 35 per cent who would make a GP appointment.

As well as benefiting parents and allowing GPs to focus resources on patients with more serious health needs, the campaign organisers say that bringing down the rate of unnecessary GP and A&E visits could save the NHS around £850 million a year – equivalent to more than 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations.

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… We want to help the public get the most effective use of these skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week.”

Support from the sector

Royal Pharmaceutical Society England Board chair Sandra Gidley commented that 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.”

PAGB chief executive John Smith said the organisation would be “fully supporting” the new campaign, adding: “Pharmacists are ideally placed to give people advice and support them to self care for minor health concerns, ensuring they get fast access to effective treatments, without the need to wait for a GP appointment or visit A&E. Not only is this better for the individual, but it saves NHS resources and GPs’ time for the people who really need it.”

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