One in ten adults in the UK have turned to their local pharmacy for advice on how to prevent serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, a new YouGov survey has revealed.
Commissioned by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and Tesco, the survey suggests that many people could be missing out on opportunities to access free advice via their local pharmacies that could help them make life-changing improvements to their health.
The findings come as the BHF, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK have been working with Tesco to deliver specialist training to the supermarket’s pharmacist teams so they can better support the public.
The survey also found that, of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice or checks, 43 per cent said talking to them had eased their concerns around wasting their GP’s time.
Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice or checks found it easier to speak to someone in a pharmacy than in other healthcare settings.
The survey results also show that 53 per cent liked not having to book an appointment when using a pharmacy for information and advice about a health-related concern.
The leading health charities say that supporting people to make lifestyle changes and seek referrals for concerning symptoms could “save thousands of lives” every year from some of the UK’s most prevalent and serious diseases.
More than 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart and circulatory diseases, while 4.9 million are living with diabetes, 90 per cent of which are cases of type 2 diabetes.
It is also estimated that nearly three million people were living with cancer in 2020. However, around four in 10 cases of cancer, many heart and circulatory diseases and up to five in 10 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed.
Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said on behalf of the charities: “We’re proud to be working together with Tesco to help deliver this world-class training to Tesco pharmacists and pharmacy colleagues.
“Thousands of lives could be saved every year through people making positive changes that lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart and circulatory diseases.”
He added: “Far more people could be taking advantage of the advice and support available to them from their Tesco pharmacy whilst they do their weekly shop, this includes tips and information on stopping smoking and weight management services.”
The survey also found that only two per cent of adults in Britain had visited their pharmacist for a blood pressure check in the last twelve months, despite an estimated 4.8 million people in the UK living with undiagnosed high blood pressure.
The three leading health charities, in partnership with Tesco, are encouraging people to use their local Tesco pharmacies for information and support on lowering their risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart and circulatory diseases.
Tesco and the health charity partners hope that shoppers take advantage of the convenience of having their local pharmacist in store.
Customers can easily seek advice when they do their weekly shop and get support for making positive changes or seeking information on concerning signs or symptoms.
Paul Pilkington, Head of Pharmacy at Tesco said: “Our Tesco pharmacy colleagues can provide information, resources and support on ways to help reduce your risk of developing cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease.
“They are available for a private and confidential chat in our pharmacy consultation room, something 15 per cent of people said was a benefit of visiting a pharmacy for information and/or advice about a health-related concern.”
He added: “As part of our role in supporting community health, we are encouraging customers to shop for affordable, healthy and sustainable food.
“Now, we want to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources and support available in Tesco pharmacies to help people live healthier. So, if you’re shopping at Tesco, go to the pharmacy counter and one of our pharmacy colleagues wearing a ‘Let’s Talk’ badge can help you.”
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash