A new YouGov survey has revealed that just 1 in 10 people have turned to their local pharmacy for advice or information on lowering their risk of serious health conditions, including cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The survey – commissioned by Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation (BHF), Diabetes UK and Tesco – suggests that many people could be missing out on opportunities to access free support and information via their local pharmacies that could help them make life-changing improvements to their health.
The findings come as these charities have been working with Tesco to deliver specialist training to Tesco pharmacists and pharmacy colleagues to support their conversations with the public.
The training will help them provide more information and support on how people can help lower their risk of these serious conditions through small changes to their day-to-day routine.
Dr Helen George, Head of Health Community Engagement at Cancer Research 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.
“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.”
Putting minds at rest
The survey also found that, of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice including on medication and new symptoms, 43% said talking to a pharmacist had eased their concerns around wasting their GP’s time.
Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of respondents found it easier to speak to someone in a pharmacy than in other healthcare settings, while more than half of people said not having to book an appointment was a major benefit of 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% of which are cases of type 2 diabetes – and it’s estimated that almost 3 million people are living with cancer.
Yet, around 4 in 10 cases of cancer, many heart and circulatory diseases and up to 5 in 10 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed.
The survey also found that only 2% of people had visited their pharmacist for a blood pressure check, despite an estimated 4.8 million people in the UK living with undiagnosed high blood pressure.
The power of the pharmacy
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.
“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,” says Paul Pilkington, Head of Pharmacy at Tesco.
“They are available for a private and confidential chat in our pharmacy consultation room, something 15% of people said was a benefit of visiting a pharmacy for information and/or advice about a health-related concern.
“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.”
You can find your local Tesco Pharmacy here.