A new report by global healthcare company Sanofi, entitled ‘Driving a self-care revolution in the UK’, is calling on the UK government to introduce a national self-care strategy to ease the burden on health services.
It’s based on research from pharmacists across England and a round-table discussion between pharmacists, healthcare professionals, doctors and patients, revealing a widely held belief that there is unlocked value in self-care.
Seventy-seven per cent of pharmacists said they would support the creation of a National Self-Care Strategy to provide national leadership on improving understanding and encouraging its use amongst both patients and clinicians.
The report also stated that self-care policy measures are estimated to increase monetary savings for healthcare systems and national economies by 16 per cent. However, it also highlights that 33 per cent of pharmacists working for independent or small pharmacy chains do not have the resources to support patients with self-care, alongside their other roles.
To tackle this, 45 per cent of pharmacists believe greater emphasis by primary care practitioners on the benefits of self-care would leave pharmacists in a better place to support patients. Similarly, 42 per cent believe that training and recruiting more pharmacists would improve their capacity to deliver self-care advice.
In terms of medicine, the research found that 23 per cent of pharmacists do not have a broad enough range of over-the-counter options, meaning they’re not able to provide patients with the correct products.
This figure increases amongst experienced pharmacists, with 68 per cent of those who have been qualified for more than 15 years agreeing they don’t have access to enough over-the-counter medication.
Therefore, 70 per cent of pharmacists would support a review of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) current switching process to determine if improvements can be made to deliver a better range of over-the-counter medicines for self-care. For example, 42 per cent of pharmacists would prioritise switching cough, cold and flu medicines from prescription to over-the-counter to ensure they have a wide enough selection of drugs available to support patients with self-care.
Harsh GK, Managing Director and General Manager, Sanofi UK and Ireland, said: “More people live within a 20-minute walk of a pharmacy than a GP surgery, which highlights the vital role pharmacists can play in reducing the burden on the NHS.
“It’s clear that pharmacists are becoming ever more important, and we hope this report highlights that with access to the right medicines and information, self-care can – and should – help unlock better health for people.”