Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice is the new 2014/15 winter campaign from PAGB and Pharmacy Voice which urges people to treat winter ailments themselves and to seek advice from their pharmacist before going directly to their GP.
New research highlights that a worrying 6 million UK adults would visit their GP and over 2 million would visit A&E as a first port of call for common winter ailments such as colds and flu. One of the most common reasons people visit their GP when suffering with a winter ailment is because they want or think they need antibiotics1, however antibiotics don’t have any impact on common winter ailments which are caused by viruses. Antibiotics only work against bacteria. Despite government efforts to reduce prescriptions for antibiotics, recent research showed a 40% rise in antibiotic prescriptions by GPs for colds and flu (from 1999-2011). Additionally, research from the Longitude Prize survey found nearly half of GPs admit to prescribing ‘useless’ antibiotics just to get pushy patients to leave their surgeries.
To help tackle this issue and reduce unnecessary visits to GP surgeries and A&E, Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice encourages people to visit their pharmacist first for expert advice. Pharmacies are an underused resource with only one in five adults making use of their local pharmacy for winter ailments. Pharmacists can help people better manage their winter ailments by providing personalised advice on what treatments will be most effective and what “warning signs” to look out for which may require medical attention.
The research also identified that people frequently underestimate the normal duration of winter ailments and therefore visit their GP too early1. The website www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk informs people on how long they can expect symptoms to last and what they can do to treat themselves better to avoid an unnecessary trip to the GP. It also features a new healthcare professional section which hosts a downloadable consumer leaflet with self-care advice and a poster for use in GP surgeries and pharmacies so healthcare professionals can support the campaign and encourage patients to speak to their pharmacist first about winter ailments.
The campaign hopes to relieve some pressure from the already struggling NHS. With each GP consultation costing the NHS £43 and an A&E walk-in-service costing £41, unnecessary visits for winter ailments could cost over £343 million which could be better spent on people who need medical attention.
Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice is supported by a number of stakeholders including the Department of Health and Public Health England.
Visit www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk to find out how long you can expect cold and flu symptoms to last for, what you can do to treat yourself better and the warning signs to look out for.
 Research carried out on behalf of the Treat Yourself Better with Pharmacist Advice campaign by Redshift Research. Sample size: 2,000 UK adults, July 2014.
 Hawker J. et al. Trends in antibiotic prescribing in primary care for clinical syndromes subject to national recommendations to reduce antibiotic resistance, UK 1995–2011: analysis of a large database of primary care consultations Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. August 2014. http://jac.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/08/01/jac.dku291.short?rss=1
Research carried out by The Longitudinal Prize 2014 on behalf of Nesta. Sample size: 1,000 doctors, July 2014. http://www.nesta.org.uk/sites/default/files/longitude-paper-antibiotics-open-review.pdf
 Curtis L. Personal and Social Services Research Unit, Canterbury University. Unit costs of health and social care 2012. Available at: http://www.pssru.ac.uk/project-pages/unit-costs/2012/. Accessed August, 2014.