Thousands of patients have been kept out of hospital as a result of a campaign encouraging people to make pharmacy their first point of call for healthcare, the pharmacy minister has revealed.
In a written parliamentary answer published on 1 November 2018, Steve Brine said that a government evaluation of the Stay Well Pharmacy campaign, which ran for three months from February 2018, showed that 13,856 fewer people had attended hospital emergency departments as a result.
The assessment also found that 6,016 fewer patients were admitted to accident and emergency (A&E) during these three months and that 5,747 fewer people were admitted to A&E in the three months after the campaign had concluded.
The Stay Well Pharmacy campaign targeted parents and carers of young children under the age of five years. Brine said the government evaluation showed that it had exceeded expectations by producing 31% unprompted awareness of pharmacies as an option for minor health concerns.
The assessment of ‘understanding’ found that 49% of parents of children under the age of five years agreed that they would use pharmacist services when their children have symptoms of minor illnesses. But the assessment of ‘behavioural intentions’ found that only 26% of parents said they would seek advice from community pharmacists, compared to the government target of 35%.
Brine added that the 2017 Stay Well This Winter campaign had produced an extra 1.6 million visits to community pharmacy after encouraging patients over the age of 65 years and working age people with long-term health conditions to seek advice from pharmacists.