Leading health charities highlight “untapped potential” of pharmacy services
Leading UK health charities have highlighted the untapped potential of pharmacy services in tackling the nation’s major health conditions.
Just one in ten adults in Britain have turned to their local pharmacy for advice and information on lowering their risk of serious health conditions including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a new YouGov survey.
The survey, commissioned by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and Tesco, suggests that many people could be missing out on opportunities to access free advice via their local pharmacies that could help them make life-changing improvements to their health.
The findings come as the BHF, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK have been working with Tesco to deliver specialist training to Tesco pharmacists and pharmacy colleagues to support their conversations with the public. The training will help them provide more information and support as to how people can help lower their risk of these serious conditions through small changes to their day-to-day routine.
The survey also found that, of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice or checks, 43 per cent said talking to a pharmacist had eased their concerns around wasting their GP’s time.
Meanwhile, 24 per cent of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice or checks found it easier to speak to someone in a pharmacy than in other healthcare settings, while 53 per cent identified not having to book an appointment as a benefit of using a pharmacy for information and advice about a health-related concern.
The leading health charities say that supporting people to make lifestyle changes and seek referrals for concerning symptoms could “save thousands of lives” every year from some of the UK’s most prevalent and serious diseases.
More than 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart and circulatory diseases, while 4.9 million are living with diabetes, 90 per cent of which are cases of type 2 diabetes, and it’s estimated that almost three million people are living with cancer (2020). Yet, around four in 10 cases of cancer, many heart and circulatory diseases and up to five in 10 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed.
Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said on behalf of the charities: “Thousands of lives could be saved every year through people making positive changes that lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart and circulatory diseases.
Far more people could be taking advantage of the advice and support available to them from their Tesco pharmacy while they do their weekly shop, this includes tips and information on stopping smoking and weight management services”
The survey also found that only two per cent of adults in Britain had visited their pharmacist for a blood pressure check in the last twelve months, despite an estimated 4.8 million people in the UK living with undiagnosed high blood pressure.
The three leading health charities, in partnership with Tesco, are encouraging people to use their local Tesco pharmacies for information and support on lowering their risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart and circulatory diseases.
Tesco and the health charity partners hope that shoppers take advantage of the convenience of having their local pharmacist in store. Customers can easily seek advice when they do their weekly shop and get support for making positive changes or seeking information on concerning signs or symptoms.