Campaign nudges public to pharmacists rather than GPs for minor ailments

A major behaviour-change campaign launched by NHS England this week urges people with minor medical problems to see their local pharmacist for advice rather than a doctor in the first instance.

The pharmacy advice campaign is aimed at getting people to deal with signs of illness at an early stage to prevent them from getting worse.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of those attending GP appointments could potentially be treated elsewhere, and about 18 million of these cases could be treated through self-care and community pharmacies, according to NHS England.

The campaign seeks to address this by highlighting common health concerns that can be treated by pharmacists.

It comes just weeks after the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan, which recommends greater use of community pharmacists' skills.

Freuds film

A key message is that people suffering from common problems such as coughs, colds, stomach upsets and aches and pains should visit a pharmacy before making an appointment to see their local GP.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer expert advice, with no need for an appointment.

Freuds is working on the campaign, which will run until the end of March and includes TV, radio and social-media advertising alongside PR.

A campaign film developed by Freuds features celebrity GPs Dr Hilary Jones, Dr Zoe Williams, Dr Dawn Harper and Dr Sara Kayat, along with NHS community pharmacist Abraham Khodadi, urging people with minor medical problems to go to pharmacists.


Help Us Help You

Pharmacies and GP surgeries across England are taking part in the campaign, which is being promoted on social media with #HelpUsHelpYou. 

The 'Help Us Help You' brand – devised by NHS England and Public Health England last year – stresses the importance of people taking responsibility for their own health.

Phil Bastable, head of campaigns at NHS England, commented: "Community pharmacists are highly qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines to effectively and safely manage a range of minor health concerns, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy troubles, aches and pains and many more."


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