Community pharmacists have been given an essential role in a national campaign by Public Health England (PHE) to help fight antimicrobial resistance.
Each community pharmacy in England is being sent advice leaflets around the self-management of respiratory tract infections to give to customers who visit the pharmacy with a cough or cold and flu-like symptoms.
Pharmacists and their teams are also expected to use the leaflet as a starting point to discuss with patients how they can look after themselves and why it may be unnecessary for them to be prescribed antibiotics.
Respiratory tract infections were chosen as the focus of the campaign because patients with these infections are often prescribed antibiotics inappropriately, according to Diane Ashiru-Oredope, lead pharmacist for antimicrobial resistance at PHE.
She told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “We hope that the pharmacist or a member of their team will use the leaflet to have a consultation about what their symptoms are and how long they can expect them to last, as well as talking about what warning signs to look for which can indicate a more serious illness and when they should see a GP.
“Patients trust their community pharmacist and this is an opportunity for community pharmacists to showcase what they [can do] normally.”
Ashiru-Oredope said that when the leaflets were piloted among community pharmacists in the north west of England, 75% of them acknowledged that the profession had an important role to play in the battle against antimicrobial resistance and 95% said they also had a responsibility to promote patient self- care.
Sandra Gidley, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said a ‘non-prescription pad’ that will also be sent to pharmacies highlights the important role of self-care.
“I think pharmacists will find them a very valuable tool for talking to patients about the best ways to treat symptoms of illness such as coughs, colds and sore throats,” she said.
The leaflets are due to be delivered to community pharmacies in time for the official campaign launch on 23 October 2018.