More people in the UK prefer visiting pharmacies for health advice, a new survey by PAGB has revealed.
The poll conducted by the consumer healthcare association revealed that 47 per cent of respondents turned to their local pharmacist for ‘initial advice or medication’ for minor ailments, higher than a 37 per cent in 2020.
It also showed a considerable increase in minor troubles such as headache, backache, cough and cold in 2021 from the previous year.
The survey covering more than 2,000 people in the UK found that 55 per cent of the lot believed pharmacists should be able to update medical records, while 50 per cent agreed they should have the right to views.
Published ahead of International Self Care Day on July 24, the survey assessed the people’s attitude towards self-care and their access to health services in the 12 months to June 2021, when coronavirus-induced lockdown was in place.
It also found that 69 per cent of respondents support the idea of GP surgeries referring patients to a pharmacist over arranging a GP consultation.
Besides, a third of people who would not have consulted a pharmacist as their first option before the pandemic, would do so in future, indicating a steady trend from the PAGB’s survey in 2020.
It also revealed that 27 per cent of the respondents’ attitude towards self-care has changed, an increase from 24 per cent in 2020.
PAGB CEO Michelle Riddalls, said, “We want to ensure that the shift towards appropriate self-care witnessed during the pandemic is maintained, and there is no doubt that pharmacists have a key role to play in achieving that goal.”
Respondents also felt that ‘more privacy’ in the pharmacy would encourage them to visit pharmacists for advice.
About 32 per cent of respondents voted for telephone access to the pharmacy team, and 31 per cent felt pharmacists should have the right to refer to other healthcare professional, such as a GP or physiotherapist, if needed.
PAGB also supports the introduction of appropriate access to patients’ records and the right to refer to other healthcare professionals.
“We hope the level of support in our survey for broadening pharmacy access to medical records and for pharmacists’ right to refer to other healthcare professionals will help drive these issues up the agenda, particularly at a time when the Government is looking to integrate different parts of the health system more fully through its new Health and Care Bill and its recently-published Data Strategy,” Riddalls said.
Pharmacist Deborah Evans said, “These findings show the value of pharmacists and pharmacy teams who have been open throughout the pandemic.”
“It is particularly encouraging that almost seven out of ten people in PAGB’s survey favour the arrangements that allow GP surgeries to refer patients to community pharmacies under the NHS Community Pharmacy Consultation Service. This service encourages and supports appropriate self-care for the benefit of individuals and the NHS as a whole,” she said.