Patients will get the ‘Right Care First Time’ if they talk to a pharmacist before heading to A&E.
In many cases, people will receive exactly the same treatment or advice in a fraction of the time if they go to a pharmacy instead of A&E, according to healthcare professionals in Bristol.
The reminder comes at the start of Ask Your Pharmacist Week (7 to 14 November 2016) as part of the new ‘Right Care, First Time’ information campaign launched this month.
Figures show that one in four people attending A&E could receive the same care in the community, for example from a GP, practice nurse, minor injuries unit or pharmacist.
The NHS campaign is calling on people to use the right service in order to get the best care in the fastest time, whilst helping the NHS to use its resources effectively and relieve pressure on busy services.
Many pharmacies now have private consultation rooms and pharmacists can help people decide what to do if someone is feeling unwell. This includes offering advice about whether medical services, such as A&E or a minor injuries unit, is required.
"As this year’s Ask Your Pharmacist week theme states, pharmacists offer more than medicines. In a lot of cases, I don’t end up recommending a product to buy at all. A large proportion of what we do as healthcare professionals is about offering advice and guidance. And if medical treatment is required, we can advise you as to the best place to go and the timescales, for example whether you need to contact out of hours services or go to A&E. We can also offer immediate support if, for example, you’ve run out of prescription medication."
- Richard Brown, chief officer, Avon Local Pharmaceutical Committees (LPC)
"Pharmacists are a valuable resource right on our doorstep and can offer professional advice for all sorts of ailments and conditions. For many people, talking to a pharmacist will mean getting the best possible care in a fraction of the time you would spend waiting at A&E. And by choosing a pharmacy over a busy GP surgery or A&E department, you’ll be helping make the best use of NHS resources.”"
- Speaking on behalf of the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs, local GP and urgent care lead Kevin Haggerty
According to NHS figures, almost 230,000 people in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire attended the area’s main A&E units during 2015/16, including the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Southmead Hospital and Weston General Hospital. Of these, one in four (57,708) were not admitted and received guidance or advice only – indicating that the same care could have been delivered in a non-acute hospital setting.
The Right Care, First Time campaign urges people to:
- Speak to a pharmacist for advice on very minor ailments that could be cared for at home using over-the-counter medicines.
- Call NHS 111 when urgent medical advice and guidance is needed but it’s not an emergency.
- Use A&E and 999 for serious and life-threatening emergencies only.