More than one-and-a-half million more people visited their local pharmacy last year as a result of a national campaign, the pharmacy minister has revealed.

Answering a question in Parliament from shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth last week (1 November), Steve Brine said that the stay well this winter campaign resulted in an extra 1.6 million visits to pharmacies.

The campaign encourages at-risk groups, including people with a long-term condition and the over-65s, to seek advice from pharmacy at the first signs of a winter illnesses such as coughs and colds.


Fewer attendances


Mr Brine added: ‘Modelling the impact of the campaign suggests it resulted in 13,856 fewer people attending, with 6,016 fewer being admitted to accident and emergency (A&E) during the three months the campaign aired.

‘[It also resulted in] 5,747 fewer people being admitted to A&E during the three months after the campaign [ended].’

According to Mr Brine, all but one of the three campaign’s targets were met by the March 2018 deadline. These include:

  • Achieving 30% of unprompted awareness of pharmacies as an option for minor health concerns among parents with children under five. The post-campaign evaluation found that 31% of parents were aware of pharmacy as an option for minor ailments.
  • Having 30% of parents of children under five agreeing that they would go to a pharmacy when the children have symptoms of certain minor illnesses. This compared to a post-evaluation at 49%.
  • Having 35% of parents of children under five claiming that they would seek advice from pharmacists for minor illnesses. The target was missed by 9%, with 26% of parents under five saying they would seek the help of pharmacists if their child was suffering from am minor ailment.


Pharmacists playing ‘stronger role’


The Government announced today (5 November) that it wants ‘more people to make the most of their local pharmacy, and for local pharmacies to play a stronger role in helping people stay well in the community.’

The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) chief executive Malcolm Harrison said that pharmacy ‘already helps prevent illness through advocacy of self-care, provision of flu vaccinations, stop smoking support and blood pressure checks’ among others.

The trade association chief added: ‘We believe that better integration with other parts of the health system, along with the right commissioning and funding frameworks, would allow community pharmacy to become the natural home of health promotion and prevention of ill health.’