Pharmacies cut hospitalisations

Pharmacies in the UK have kept almost 14,000 people out of hospital in a government trial, claims Britain’s minister for the pharmacy sector.

The ‘Stay Well Pharmacy’ campaign encouraged people to make pharmacy their first point of call for healthcare, with hospitalisation averted for nearly 14,000 people as a result, according to the minister, Steve Brine.

The UK government evaluation of the campaign, which ran for three months from February 2018, showed that 13,856 fewer people had attended hospital emergency departments as a result.

A total of 6,016 fewer patients were admitted to hospital accident and emergency departments during the period, while 5,747 fewer people were admitted to emergency rooms in the three months after the campaign had concluded.

According to The Pharmaceutical Journal, the campaign specifically targeted parents and carers of children aged under five years.

It aimed to change consumers’ behaviour following research by NHS England that found only one in five adults would consider visiting their pharmacy first for help with a minor health concern. That figure dropped to just six per cent for parents of young children, with 35 per cent saying they would first opt for an appointment with their GP. Five per cent said they would take their child straight to hospital as the first port of call.

According to Stay Well Pharmacy, the campaign’s aim was to make the best use of the clinical expertise of community pharmacists while relieving some of the pressure on GPs and emergency departments and conveying the message that “pharmacists are well trained to spot a ‘minor illness’ that may be more serious and to help their patients get the help they need quickly”.

Mr Brine says the government evaluation showed the program had exceeded expectations by producing 31 per cent unprompted awareness of pharmacies as an option for minor health concern.