NHS launches ad campaign as just one in five would visit high-street pharmacy for minor illnesses

ust one in five people aged 18-40 would visit their local pharmacy first for expert advice with a minor illness, new polling has found.

The NHS has today launched a new campaign to highlight how high-street pharmacies can support patients with non-urgent health advice for minor conditions including coughs, aches and colds.

‘Movie-inspired’ Help Us Help You adverts will run across catch-up TV services, online video, radio and social media, dramatising minor illnesses and highlighting the vital clinical advice, support and over-the-counter medicines that local pharmacists can offer to help ‘nip issues in the bud’ before they potentially worsen.

The ‘Earache strikes back’, ‘sore throat and the lost voice’, and ‘night of the itchy eye’ ads are aimed at reminding people that their pharmacy is there for them for minor health issues.

This is one of several campaigns aimed at drawing attention to the importance of accessing the most appropriate NHS service when patients are in need. NHS chiefs have said it is vital that people come forward when they have health concerns – whether that is through their local pharmacy, 111 or by calling 999 or going to A&E when they need to seek urgent medical help.

Minor health issues include minor aches, cystitis and colds, with people able to access information on a full range of conditions online on the NHS website. People can also use the NHS website to find their local pharmacy.

NHS England has outlined plans to expand the role of community pharmacies, from delivering blood pressure checks to help prevent strokes and for pharmacists to help detect cancer earlier.

Chief pharmaceutical officer, David Webb, said: “Community pharmacies are right in the heart of local communities, and with pharmacists fully trained clinical professionals, they are the perfect place for anybody suffering from a minor illness to get expert advice.

“Pharmacies can offer the convenience of turn up on the day consultations and can help you get any care needed including over-the-counter-medicines. So whether suffering from a cough, earache, itchy eye, or any other minor illness, popping into your local pharmacy is a great way to nip an issue in the bud before it potentially worsens.”

Recent Ipsos polling found high levels of public satisfaction with their local pharmacy, with around nine in 10 people reporting they received good advice as well as feeling treated with respect.

Latest data shows in November nearly 100,000 (91,785) people with minor illnesses received a same day consultation with their local pharmacist after initially calling NHS 111 or their local GP Practice, up 39% from 66,039 the same month in 2021.

YouTube star and community pharmacist Abraham Khadadi is supporting the latest campaigning, noting the convenience local pharmacies offer and the opportunity to speak with an experienced healthcare professional.

Advanced Clinical Practitioner Pharmacist and YouTuber, Abraham said: “I would encourage everyone to make use of their local pharmacy. They are such a convenient way to obtain health advice on minor illnesses and you can usually just walk-in and speak to a pharmacist straight away – you don’t even need an appointment.

“All pharmacists train for four years at university with an additional year on a placement – so you can trust us to give you the advice you need – or signpost you to another health service if necessary.”