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NHS urges public to visit pharmacies for minor ailments

Clinical “The earlier, the better” campaign aims to help reduce the number of people going to A&E with illnesses that could have been treated earlier by self-care or through pharmacy services

NHS England is set to call on the public to turn to their community pharmacist for "expert guidance" in a 10-week campaign to reduce pressure on urgent and emergency care services.


The campaign, called "The earlier, the better", launches on Monday (January 20) and aims to "influence changes in public behaviour" to help reduce the number of people going to A&E with illnesses that could have been treated earlier by self-care or through pharmacy services, NHS England has said.


The campaign, running until the end of March, should increase confidence in pharmacy services and increase the number of people with minor ailments visiting their pharmacy, it said.


The 10-week campaign is aimed at the over-45s and the elderly and urges people to seek help early from pharmacists if they have a bad cough, cold or sore throat

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It is aimed at the over-45s and the elderly, through their friends, family and carers, and urges people to seek help early from pharmacists if they have a bad cough, cold or sore throat. The campaign is in response to NHS England's Urgent and Emergency Care Review last year, which found that a significant percentage of patients that spent longer than four hours in A&E were aged 45 years and over.


The campaign will involve advertisements in national newspapers, local and national radio stations, and across social media. There will also be posters, countertop displays and pharmacy bags promoting it. 


"It's easy to forget that our local pharmacists can provide expert guidance on how to help manage long-term conditions, or give advice on the best treatment for a cough or cold," said Professor Keith Willett, NHS England's domain director for acute episodes of care.


"It's essential that older people seek help as soon as possible to prevent a trip to hospital if their condition gets worse," he said.


PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said yesterday (January 16) that community pharmacy had been calling for a national publicity campaign for some time to tell patients more about what it had to offer. She said she hoped to see the campaign "backed by the commissioning of services that will use pharmacies to do more for patients' needs".


Earlier this week, Pharmacy Voice launched its own campaign to promote the role of pharmacy and combat ignorance about the sector's role in healthcare.



What other services can pharmacies offer to ease the burden on hospitals and GPs?

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