Parents urged to think pharmacist first for minor illness in their children

Tuesday 13th February, 2018

Two pharmacists

A major new public health campaign has been launched this week to urge parents to consult a pharmacist first for minor illness, instead of GP or A&E.

Parents can get more convenient and timely expert advice if your child has a minor illness by opting to go to their local pharmacist first instead of the GP.

Latest figures show that nationally 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E for self-treatable conditions cost the NHS £850 million per year.

By using a pharmacy for minor health concerns we can all help the NHS and ease pressure on GPs and other health services.

However, research for the NHS shows just 6% of mums and dads with children under the age of five would consider seeking help about a minor health concern from a high street pharmacist in the first instance.

More than a third (35%) would opt for an appointment with their GP while 5% of those questioned would choose emergency care as their first point of call.

This is despite an overwhelming majority of adults (79%) saying they are aware that pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can give advice on most common illnesses which includes when and where to seek advice for more serious conditions.

The NHS is urging more parents to use their pharmacy first in a move which could help free up GP time for sicker patients and help save the NHS around £850 million each year as well as save time for busy families.

Around 95% of people live within a 20 minute walk of a local community pharmacy, making pharmacists extremely accessible and a valuable first port of call for minor health concerns such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles or teething.

Around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions - such as coughs and tummy troubles - at a cost of more than £850 million each year to the NHS. This is the equivalent of more than 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations.

The NHS nationally is working with community pharmacies to increase the range of patient services they provide including asthma audits and flu vaccinations and to promote the clinical expertise available from the pharmacy team.

Dr Bruce Warner, Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England said: “Pharmacists are highly trained NHS health professionals who are able to offer clinical advice and effective treatments for a wide range of minor health concerns right there and then. They can assess symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment or simply provide reassurance, for instance when a minor illness will get better on its own with a few days’ rest. However, if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need.‚Äč We want to help the public get the most effective use of these skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week.”

This week people are being urged to think about using their local pharmacist first for advice is part of the Stay Well Pharmacy campaign.

It is backed by pharmacists and Netmums, the UK’s biggest parenting website.

Annie O’Leary, Editor in Chief at Netmums, said: “We’re committed to raising awareness of the best way parents can keep their little ones well, and that’s why we're supporting the Stay Well Pharmacy campaign from NHS England. Pharmacists are highly trained NHS health professionals who are able to offer clinical advice for a wide range of minor health concerns, right there and then. Pharmacists can assess your child's symptoms and provide clinical advice, or simply provide reassurance that it is nothing more serious. We know convenience is key and parents should consider using the pharmacy team as their first port of call, after all, 95% of the population is within easy reach of a local community pharmacy.”

 The NHS 'Stay Well Pharmacy' campaign will be supported by a TV advert, and digital and social media advertising – visit to find out more.