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NHS England launches publicity campaign to ease pressure on GPs

NHS England is launching a national publicity campaign to ease pressure on GPs by encouraging older patients to visit a pharmacist for minor ailments.

The ‘Earlier, The Better’ campaign starts on Monday next week and is aimed at people aged over 60. It involves posters on bill boards, bus stops, shopping malls and supermarkets, plus adverts in newspapers and on radio stations.

‘Pharmacists can give advice on helping older people manage long terms and on finding medication for coughs, colds and wheezing,’ NHS England argues in the adverts.

The adverts will also encourage older people to visit the NHS Choices website for help in managing long term conditions or call NHS 111.

Professor Keith Willett, NHS England’s director for acute care said: ‘We see in our hospitals so many people who have not had or sought the help they need early enough. We have to do better at helping people stay well, not just picking up the pieces when they fall seriously ill.’

GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said: ‘If a patient feels they need to access NHS services they should do so, but it is often the case where an individual can safely treat their own minor conditions or ailments, for example by visiting a pharmacist for non-prescription medication, rather than having the inconvenience of making an unnecessary GP appointment and then sitting in a waiting room with other sick patients. This will not only relieve pressure on GP practices, but enable GPs to proved better access to their patients.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • Vinci Ho

    Wait a minute.
    (1) Why is it only applying to patients over 60 years old?
    (2) Pharmacists certainly have a role in this . NHS choice . May be. I wonder if patients still guidance reading the materials . Obviously , it will only apply if the patient use internet and has no problem reading the text.(elderly patient??)
    (3) NHS111? Really? Call handlers to educate our patients?
    (4) Not too sure about the symptom of wheezing which could have different interpretation for different individual . In fact , it is more a physical sign than symptom -- transmitted upper respiratory tract noises? genuine expiratory wheezes ? coarse 'bubbling' like crackles? even stridor ??
    (5) Has the advert wordings been thought through carefully? Call me cynical and moaner .......

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  • is this safe or fair? this places too much burden on busy pharmacists

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  • I think driving people to call 111 is likely to increase demand, not decrease it. Remember, more totally unreadable 111 reports to wade through, patients asked to contact their GP surgery with the expectation of being seen in 1 or 2 hours, more redirects to emergency demand etc.

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  • And I can't see pharmacist decreasing demand for appointment either. Not unusually, I see patients who were told to see GP for trivial matters or refused to be sold one off ibuprofen because they have high blood pressure.

    Besides who is going to ensure pharmacists are giving the right advice and good standard of practice? Well they be asked to go through the same assessment and reporting process (appraisal, revalidation, QoF, PSQ, MSF, CQRS, CQC etc) as the GPs?

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  • and what tends to happen is we get people who say referred to us by pharmacist.
    get rid of revalidation and qof and let gps look after patients instead of looking and ticking box after box of QOF reminders on their screens. something very weird going on when gps are saying one thing and nobody cares and instead add more bureaucracy

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  • Pharmacists sell too many products that have no evidenced based benefits. Their business is profit driven as can be seen in any pharmacy by the amount of cold and flu remedies on show!

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  • The problem is not the over 60s who on the whole use the service appropriately. In my experience it is the under 10s who take up vast swathes of time with coughs, colds and a fever which started as much as 30 minutes ago. The appointments are often booked before the parent has even picked them up from school and assessed them themselves. Most of these simply receive reassurance but they block appointment spaces for the elderly who are more likely to have things that need assessment and management.

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