NHS England Launches its ‘Stay Well’ Campaign
The NHS Stay Well campaign aims to encourage people to use their local pharmacy as a first port of call for minor health concerns. NHS England has launched one of the biggest ever campaigns and have been notified that it will feature as one of community pharmacy’s six public health campaigns for the year. It will run from 12th February to 1st April 2018. We have heard on the news and in the papers that the NHS has been hit hard this year and waiting times have increased. Patients are now having to wait in corridors in the accident and emergency wards because the NHS waiting times are at the worst levels since records began as hospital crowding soars. This campaign aims to increase the public’s trust and confidence in community pharmacy teams as the place to go for clinical advice for minor health concerns, and encouraging people to use pharmacies rather than visiting their GP or A&E as a first port of call. NHS England estimates that around 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E are for self-treatable conditions, such as coughs and stomach troubles, costing the NHS more than £850m each year, which it described as the equivalent of more than 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations. This could help to explain why our Doctors surgeries and Emergency services waiting times have increased and why more and more people aren’t getting the appointments they urgently need. Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said that pharmacists were “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”. If patients’ symptoms suggested “something more serious”, pharmacists had “the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need”, he added. Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Board chair Sandra Gidley said it was “great to see a campaign putting pharmacists at the front of people’s minds when it comes to getting clinical advice and over-the counter-medicines for minor health concerns”. An estimated 95% of the population of England live within a 20-minute walk of a local community pharmacy, but the NHS England survey found a quarter of people felt it was difficult to discuss health concerns in private with a pharmacist, with more than 90% of people unaware that many pharmacies have a private consultation room. Clearly the Government have more work to do to gain the public's trust in local pharmacy and free up A&E waiting times. However, remember that most local pharmacies should have a private room if more sensitive subjects need to be discussed. Therefore, Let’s all Stay Well this year and help by visiting our local pharmacies and helping free up GP time for patients that are more in need.