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Two-thirds of people will visit pharmacist for advice rather than GP

Boots pharmacy counter

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Results from a survey of 1,200 people showed that women were more likely to seek advice from pharmacists, with 70% saying they sometimes visited a pharmacy rather than a family doctor for minor illness advice

Almost two-thirds (65%) of people say they choose to visit a pharmacist rather than a GP for advice on minor self-treatable ailments at least some of the time, research commissioned by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi shows.

The survey of 1,200 people, which was carried out by polling company Kantar TNS to aid a roundtable event held at the Houses of Parliament on 3 July 2018, found that women were even more likely to seek advice from pharmacists, with 70% of them saying that they sometimes visited a pharmacist rather than a family doctor for advice on minor illnesses.

The survey results also show that young adults were less likely to ask pharmacists for advice, with 50% of respondents aged 16–24 years saying they would visit a pharmacy for advice, compared with 70% of those aged 45–54 years.

Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) said they did not go to pharmacies for advice.

Online health advice featured strongly among those surveyed, with 80% saying that ‘Googling’ their symptoms was the easiest way to access information. A further 47% said pharmacists were easy to access for advice and 29% said the same of their GP.

Respondents showed strong support for recent changes to the NHS’s prescribing policy for drugs that can be bought cheaply over the counter, which were announced in March 2018. Of those polled, 68% said they backed the NHS’s decision to restrict prescribing of products for 35 conditions including indigestion, haemorrhoids, cradle cap and head lice, because it would save the NHS money. But less than half (46%) of survey respondents were aware of these changes.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205149

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