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National awareness campaign will promote community pharmacy services

NHS England is launching a 10-week public awareness campaign on Monday (20 January 2014) that aims to improve understanding of, and confidence in, community pharmacy services, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee has revealed.

The campaign, called “The earlier, the better”, is designed to reduce pressure on the NHS urgent and emergency care system by encouraging people to seek advice early if they are feeling unwell. It will direct people with minor ailments to community pharmacy services as well as self-care information and advice on the NHS Choices website.

The campaign will include advertisements on the radio and in national newspapers. Pharmacies will receive packs including window posters and countertop displays to help them support the campaign, according to the PSNC.

Commenting on this and the “Dispensing health” campaign launched by Pharmacy Voice earlier this week (15 January 2014), PSNC chief executive Sue Sharpe said: “Community pharmacy has been calling for a national publicity campaign to tell patients more about what it has to offer for some time — this was mentioned in the 2008 White Paper, for example — and we believe that to the extent to which both of these campaigns should help the public to better understand the value and help that pharmacies can offer, they are good things.”

However, she added that she hopes to see the campaigns backed by the commissioning of services and argued that if combined with a national community pharmacy minor ailment service, campaigns like this could be even more powerful.

“For pharmacy contractors these campaigns serve as reminder of the need to ensure that patients are fully aware of all the services that you offer — the campaigns will be driving people towards the NHS Choices website, for example, so this could be a good opportunity to ensure that the information on your NHS Choices profile is all up to date,” she said.

More information on the campaign will follow next week.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2014.11132973

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