Children with minor illnesses should be taken to pharmacies

NHS England's Stay Well Pharmacy campaign is urging parents of young children with minor illnesses to take them to pharmacies rather than GPs or A&E.

The health body claims that visits to GPs and A&E for predominantly ‘self-treatable’ conditions cost £850 million a year, with a recent survey suggesting that only six per cent of parents with children ged under-five would go to a pharmacist first. Visiting a pharmacist first would also free up extra time for the most-in-need patients.

With approximately 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million visits to A&E made every year for self-treatable conditions, the campaign says that the cost of this is equivalent to over 220,000 hip replacements or 880,000 cataract operations.

Dr Bruce Warner, deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, said: "Pharmacists are highly trained NHS health professionals who are able to offer clinical advice and effective treatments for a wide range of minor health concerns right there and then. They can assess symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment or simply provide reassurance, for instance when a minor illness will get better on its own with a few days' rest. However, if symptoms suggest it's something more serious, they have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need."

The Patients Association has reiterated that it remains important that parents do not feel put off from seeing a doctor if they think something more serious is wrong.

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