Pharmacy Voice has published a paper entitled ‘Who do you think we are?’ to mark the launch of a new long-term campaign, Dispensing Health, which addresses the results of a new YouGov research that shows a lack of public understanding of the role community pharmacy can play in helping manage the common ailments in their everyday health, and in helping people to live healthily.
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NHS England has launched a new campaign today called ‘The earlier, the better.’ It encourages people to seek help from their local pharmacist or go to www.nhs.uk/asap early on if they’re feeling under the weather.
One of the areas that the Urgent and Emergency Care Review report (published in November 2013) discusses is the much greater use of the skills, experience and convenience of community pharmacists across England for advice on minor ailments and support in management of long-term conditions.
This campaign aims to reduce pressure on the NHS urgent and emergency care system by changing public behaviour to help reduce the number of people requiring emergency admissions with illnesses that could have been effectively treated earlier by self care or community pharmacy services.The campaign will run from 20th January to the end of March 2014 and will feature adverts in the national press, websites and on local radio stations, as well as posters in pharmacies, tweets and stories on Facebook.
A major new consumer campaign, ‘Treat Yourself Better’ without antibiotics was launched by Pharmacy Voice and PAGB at the Annual Self Care Conference on 12th November.
The campaign urges people to self-treat winter ailments such as coughs and colds rather than going to the GP and asking for antibiotics which are ineffective in treating the symptoms of viral infections. It will run until the end of February 2014.
Research indicates that people often give up on the self-treatment of common winter ailments because the symptoms last longer than they expect. The campaign therefore aims to educate people on how long such symptoms should typically last for and provide advice on what people can do to better treat themselves with pharmacy support to help prevent unnecessary visits to the GP surgery or A&E department.
To understand better the symptom duration of cold and flu a new informative website,
www.treatyourselfbetter.co.uk, has been developed that features a symptom checker and warning signs support material, to help people understand how long symptoms could last for and when it is appropriate to seek medical assistance.
The campaign is supported by a wide range of organisations including the Department of Health, Public Health England (through European Antibiotic Awareness Day), NICE, the community pharmacy trade associations and over-the-counter medicines manufacturers.
Speaking at the Annual Self Care Conference, Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality, said he ‘wholeheartedly supports’ the new Treat Yourself Better without antibiotics campaign:
Rob Darracott from Pharmacy Voice speaks about the aims of the Treat Yourself Better without antibiotics campaign:
To support Self Care Week, the Self Care Forum has produced a medicine cabinet poster to put on display in patient waiting rooms. This explains that winter ailments such as coughs and colds are best treated at home and that antibiotics from the GP aren’t needed.
It also highlights how long the symptoms of common winter ailments should typically last for (middle ear infection: 4 days; sore throat: 1 week; cold: 1.5 weeks; sinusitis: 2.5 weeks; cough: 3 weeks).
PDF versions of the poster can be downloaded below:
Some new Self Care Forum fact sheets are now available. These are on Otitis Media, the Common Cold and Sinusitis.
They can be downloaded from the Fact Sheets page.
Dr Rob Hicks, broadcaster and journalist has voiced his support for self care aware practice:
“By becoming good at self care and being more Self Care Aware you are giving yourself a better chance to live a longer, healthier and more independent life. Your doctor will still be there when you need them, but self care is an easy way to take control of your own health.”
Save our NHS: Time for Action on Self Care
In order to save the NHS for future generations we have launched a resource pack to help general practitioners and Commissioners adopt a cohesive self care strategy. The document, entitled Save our NHS: Time for Action on Self Care is a mandate which provides a self care action plan for the NHS, supplemented with a ‘How to’ guide .
The Save our NHS: Time for Action on Self Care mandate advocates a whole systems approach across the NHS to empower patients to self care in a supportive environment. To enable this to happen in practice, a six-point blueprint has been developed.
- Recognise that supporting self care can create capacity in general practice for longer consultations
- For all healthcare professionals to support self care behaviour at every contact
- Adopt a self care aware conversation in all consultations
- Implement the NHS Constitution at practice level to underpin support for self care
- Support Patient Participation Groups to implement the National Association of Patient Participation programme supporting self care for the practice population
- Encourage healthcare professionals to enable patients to self care by developing national and local incentive schemes.
The publication of the ‘UK Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2013 to 2018’ highlights that, faced with the growing and substantial risk of antibiotic resistance, more needs to be done to put the message across that antibiotics don’t work and shouldn’t be used for viral infections such as coughs, colds and ‘flu.
To help with this, the Self Care Forum has produced fact sheets for use in general practice consultations which include information for patients on the normal duration of symptoms and the ‘red flag’ symptoms that indicate when medical intervention is required. The fact sheets resulted from research suggesting that many people visit their GP too soon for coughs and colds because they are not sure of how long the symptoms should normally last for, or the symptoms that signal something more serious is wrong.
The AMR strategy lists as an area for action, ‘improving professional education, training and public engagement to improve clinical practice and promote wider understanding of the need for more sustainable use of antibiotics’. This supports the work of the Self Care Forum with fact sheets for cough and sore throat symptoms (more are in development) and our support of European Antibiotic Awareness Day each year on 18th November.
We are spreading the word on the need to support people to self care when they can and visit the NHS when they need to and to do this we believe people need information about the time during which self care is safe and the red flags which mean they should seek medical help. We need this to be supported by all who communicate with patients and public so that there’s consistency in the message no matter which NHS touch point is accessed.
Professor Keith Willett, Director of Acute Episodes of Care at NHS England gave a presentation to the health and voluntary sector strategic partnership programme recently to engage in the NHS England consultation on the review of urgent and emergency care.
If you have not already done so, it would be a good idea to respond to this consultation in relation to self care and self management.
For full details please click here
On 18th July 2013 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Primary Care and Public Health held a Summer Reception to launch their new inquiry report examining the future sustainability of the NHS.
At the Reception were a number of expert panellists adding their views on how we can support people to live healthily for longer. The health minister Earl Howe also addressed the meeting and, while he said there has been tremendous progress in health care in the last 65 years, there are still challenging times ahead.
There was agreement amongst the panel members, who were from the King’s Fund, Public Health England, NHS England and Bexley CCG that a public debate about the costs of the health service is necessary.
For years politicians, medical and nursing professions, economists and think tanks have all been talking amongst themselves about the problems we are facing in the NHS as a result of increasing demand, an expanding an ageing population and financial challenges. And now it’s time to include patients and the public, and those working in the NHS in this important debate that affects us all. This was one recommendation made by the APPG and coincides with a recent Government announcement to have “an open and honest debate” about the future shape of the NHS.
The full inquiry report is available to download from the APPG website