Survey: people still reluctant to visit pharmacy first

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Survey: people still reluctant to visit pharmacy first

Almost half the public wouldn’t visit a pharmacist first for advice on treating minor conditions like coughs and colds, and a third would head straight to their GP, a report has found.

Of the 47 per cent of people surveyed who said they wouldn’t visit their pharmacist in the first instance for advice or medication for a self-treatable condition, 18 per cent said they didn’t think pharmacists were as qualified as GPs or hospital staff. The Self Care Nation report, commissioned by the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, explored the attitudes of over 5,000 UK adults towards self care and managing self-treatable conditions.

Despite visiting pharmacies regularly to pick up prescriptions, the research found that people aren’t using the wider health services pharmacies can offer, such as flu jabs, health checks, and advice on a wide range of OTC medicines.

Steve Riley, community pharmacist, said: “The findings from the research are worrying. It is clear more needs to be done to raise awareness of the skills and expertise that pharmacists have." 

But people do accept the benefits of self care. More than half of those questioned 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. 

PAGB chief executive John Smith said: “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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