New research has found that pharmacists could save the NHS millions of pounds and improve care for infants with reflux, colic and constipation by becoming the first port of call for concerned parents.

A recent study, published in BMJ Open, suggests that England spends £72.3m a year managing infant Functional Gastrointestinal (GI) Disorders, such as reflux, colic and constipation. Yet, a new expert review on the current management recommendations for infant Functional GI Disorders has concluded that first-line management should focus on parental reassurance and nutritional advice.

The BMJ Open study also calculated that a minimum of £6.3m is spent on consultations and prescriptions of medication for colic, with parents incurring a further £13.6m in costs through the purchase of over-the-counter (OTC) colic medicines with no evidence of efficacy.

Bhupinder Malhi, pharmacist and Gut Feelings spokesperson (a multi-disciplinary expert group) believes that pharmacists could save the NHS at least £6m overnight by reducing GP consultations for reflux, colic and constipation prescriptions, by positioning themselves as the first port of call for parents and offering excellent reassuring advice, and a range of management solutions for parents.

“I also believe we know when parents do require medical advice and will happily refer to a GP if and when it is required,” he said.

To help support pharmacists in the management of Functional GI Disorders a new educational resource, developed by healthcare professionals, has been launched on MIMS Learning, which summarises the guidelines for reflux, colic and constipation, and includes a psychology-based motivational interviewing section on how to give effective parental reassurance:
www.mimslearning.co.uk/infantGIhealth

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