‘The earlier the better’ – why visiting your local pharmacy sooner rather than later could make all the difference

11 Feb

by Christian Thomas, 1st year PhD student in Medication Safety theme Christian Thomas NHS pic_cropped The beginning of 2014 sees the introduction of the new NHS campaign “The earlier, the better”. Designed to reduce the increased pressure experienced by our A&E departments and GP surgeries during the winter months, this campaign sets out to change public behaviour on a large scale.  Mainly aimed at elderly and frail individuals who are often admitted to hospital with respiratory conditions which may have been brought on by immobility, cold environments and viral illnesses – the aim is to begin treating these conditions before a visit to the GP or a stay in hospital is required, through a visit to the local pharmacy. Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s Director for Acute Care said many of the patients seen in hospital are those who have not had or sought help early enough. Commenting, “We have to do better at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when they fall seriously ill. Too many people make the mistake of soldiering on, losing the opportunity to nip things in the bud.” How then, can the general public become more aware of the services provided in their local pharmacies? The NHS are proposing a national PR campaign, where the public will see adverts in the national newspapers and on websites, hear adverts on local and national radio stations and see posters in their local pharmacy. It is believed however, that word of mouth will be a vital means in which to encourage people that may be our family, our friends, our neighbours or even ourselves to visit the local pharmacy. Speaking up about suffering from a bad cough, cold or sore throat could be crucial in preventing a minor illness developing into something more serious. It can be easy to underestimate the local pharmacy, with many unaware of the range of services that numerous pharmacies provide. Clare Howard, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England explains, “Pharmacists and their teams are well trained and well placed to be able to offer advice to people seeking help. They can provide medicines’ advice and support for minor ailments, advise you about how to manage a long term condition and tell you if something needs more urgent medical attention from your GP, or even your local hospital.” As somebody who works as a dispenser in a community pharmacy, I am fully supportive of this campaign, having witnessed countless instances of customers coming into the pharmacy for what is sometimes, lifesaving advice. At times the most important advice can be in ensuring an individual does visit their GP or the local hospital for something that they were sure ‘is probably nothing’. There is great satisfaction in knowing that had it not been for their visit to the pharmacy their condition may have been left either unnoticed or worse still, untreated. Therefore, perhaps the most important aspect of this campaign could be in raising the public’s awareness that the pharmacy is another option for those who may put off going to visit the doctor for “just a cold”. It is always better to check your symptoms, at most it could save your life and at the very least, you are sure to feel better in the long run. For more information, please visit http://www.nhs.uk/asap.

2 Responses to “‘The earlier the better’ – why visiting your local pharmacy sooner rather than later could make all the difference”

  1. Martin Rathfelder April 10, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    Any campaign which relies on the public to diagnose themselves and take what they see as a high risk option is sadly doomed to failure


  1. Quality and safety in community pharmacies: a complex business | GM PSTRC - March 17, 2014

    […] a previous blog (https://gmpstrc.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/the-earlier-the-better-why-visiting-your-local-pharmacy-soon…), we saw that community pharmacies play a role in the vanguard of primary healthcare.  According […]

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