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New MAC Report Shows That Despite 13.5 Million 'Unnecessary' GP Appointments in 2017[1], Over 25% of UK Pharmacists Still Don't Believe Their Skills Are Being Properly Utilised by the Public

New MAC Report Shows That Despite 13.5 Million 'Unnecessary' GP Appointments in 2017[1], Over 25% of UK Pharmacists Still Don't Believe Their Skills Are Being Properly Utilised by the Public

PR Newswire

LONDON, November 20, 2018

LONDON, November 20, 2018 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Nearly a quarter of UK pharmacists believe the public are more likely to approach their GP than their pharmacist for common ailments
  • Only 5% of pharmacists think the UK public are aware of the level of expertise that they have

The winter months are fast approaching, and with them comes the inevitable return of the dreaded cold and sore throat season. Those who book an appointment with a local GP, at the slightest hint of throat tickle or head-cold are certainly not alone. A study of UK pharmacists commissioned by sore throat specialists MAC revealed that over a quarter (26%) don't believe their skills are being properly utilised. Coupled with recent research suggesting that GPs are subject to over 13.5 million 'unnecessary' appointments every year[2], the MAC findings highlight that the public are missing out on a crucial expert resource; local pharmacists.

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An un-tapped resource 

Despite the average UK GP having over 41 consultations a day[3], evidencing an increasingly stretched NHS, 6 in 10[4] pharmacists surveyed by MAC reported receiving between just 1 in 10 customer requests for simple, seasonal, health advice during the same timeframe. Furthermore, when asked whether the public are more likely to approach their GP about a common ailment, nearly a quarter (24%) of pharmacists believed this was the case. Unsurprising, then, is the fact that just 5% of pharmacists believe the UK public are absolutely aware of the level of expertise that they can offer within a simple, instant conversation in-store.

Just what the doctor ordered 

Going to a local pharmacist could be just what the doctor ordered, with 93% of pharmacists agreeing that more members of the public should be approaching them for expert advice. Consumers in a pharmacy are well-placed to make the most of the wide-ranging capabilities of the pharmacy team, and, what's more, many of them self-identify as experts in more specific and seasonal ailments. Nearly 8 in 10 (79%) say they are experts in treating coughs, 85% in the common cold and 80% know exactly how to soothe sore throats. So, at the first hint of a throat tickle or cough, consult a local pharmacist.

Experienced Pharmacist, Nadia Bukhari said: "Pharmacists really are experts in medicines and, amazingly, you don't need an appointment to see us. So, if it's not a medical emergency, always go and see your pharmacist first. We can manage and counsel you on your medicines, give you lifestyle advice to keep you healthy, carry out routine diagnostic tests, prescribe treatments for common ailments such as coughs, colds and sore throats and even support you through any chronic medical conditions.

" We're here to help and can point you in the right direction of any other healthcare practitioner or service you require; I truly hope that this year we'll see more of the British public in-store."

But, it's not just pharmacists that are highlighting the current under-use of their skills in comparison to GPs. Recent NHS figures have exposed that a shocking one million patients a week cannot get a GP appointment, and the number waiting at least a week to see their GP has risen to over half (56%) in the last five years[5]. Furthermore, the rising number of patients now struggling to get through over the phone has increased to nearly a third, with many reporting extreme difficulties due to lines being busy or even closed.

George Ware, spokesperson for sore throat brand MAC, explains"Here at MAC, we recognise the significant role that pharmacists play in supporting people with common ailments on a daily basis. And, coupled with the challenge it can be to get a GP appointment, we really believe more people should turn to their local pharmacist when it comes to simple, seasonal ailments. It's time to make the most of a fantastic, and largely un-tapped, resource available to us, and to trust in our army of expert pharmacists and the effective remedies they recommend."

1. GPs are struggling to deal with 13.5 million unnecessary appointments a year; statistic taken from a letter sent to all chief executives of NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts calling for changes to reduce the waste in 2016/17. Reported 5th March 2017.
2. As above.
3. GPs in the UK have an average of 41.5 patient contacts every day; statistic from survey commissioned by Pulse. Reported 18th January 2018.  
4. MAC survey based on the perspectives of 83 UK pharmacists. Launched October 2018.
5. One million patients a week cannot get a GP appointment; statistic taken from NHS research. Reported 6th July 2017.

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Last Updated: 20-Nov-2018