A new publicity campaign has been launched to urge parents to visit their local pharmacists for advice on minor illnesses for children under five, rather than GPs.
But one charity has warned that the advice should be ‘caveated’ as any signs of unusual illness could be sepsis.
According to NHS England, of the 300 million GP appointments made each year, 6% are from those who could have seen a pharmacist or administered self-care.
The NHS Stay Well Pharmacy campaign, launched today, is calling for the five million parents with children under five, to seek advice from their local pharmacist for issues such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles or teething.
The campaign research revealed that only 16% of adults surveyed said they would approach a pharmacist for minor health advice and this number dropped to 6% for parents with young children.
More than one-third said they would make a GP appointment and 5% said they would visit emergency services instead. Nearly a quarter believed that they would have to visit the GP anyway, so went directly.
Deputy Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England Dr Bruce Warner, 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. We want to help the public get the most effective use of these skilled clinicians who are available every day of the week’.
Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: ‘We are supportive of any initiative that aims to ease the pressure on practices while carefully considering the needs of patients. First and foremost, however, GPs are there to provide safe and comprehensive care to their patients, so anyone with serious concerns about their health should not be discouraged from seeking advice from their doctor’.
And Dr Ron Daniels, chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said: ’We welcome NHS England’s sensible guidance, but this should have been caveated. If a child has symptoms of infection but the parents are concerned and suspect their child might be more seriously unwell, it’s important that they are encouraged to trust their instincts. Parents with a child who seems unusually ill should call 111, check sepsis symptoms online and follow advice accordingly.’
nhs stay well pharmacy child campaign