12 February 2018

Consider the Pharmacist, but Worried Parents Should Trust Their Instinct, Says College

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the launch of an NHS England campaign encouraging parents to take their children to the pharmacy before seeing a GP.

She said: "GPs and our teams across the country are currently facing intense resource and workforce pressures, and patients can certainly help to ease this pressure by seeking advice from a pharmacist where appropriate, before making an appointment to see their GP.

"This new advice from NHS England is in line with the College's own '3 before GP' guidance to encouraging patients to ask themselves whether they do actually need the expert medical care of a GP, or whether self-care, consulting a reputable online source such as NHS Choices, or asking a pharmacist for advice would be appropriate.

"Pharmacists are highly-skilled medical professionals who play an important role in advising patients on a huge variety of minor illnesses and conditions, and recommending over-the-counter treatments and basic self-care guidance. Crucially, they are also trained to look out for symptoms that could potentially indicate serious conditions, and advise when GP or emergency care is necessary.

"But of course, they are not GPs and in an emergency or situation where genuinely unsure, patients should always seek expert medical assistance, particularly if parents see potentially serious symptoms in their child such as a very high temperature that doesn’t respond to simple measures, features of dehydration or lethargy.

"We also understand that all parents worry when their child falls ill, and that ultimately, they are best placed to identify when something really isn’t right with their child. So, if parents notice anything of significant concern in child’s health or behaviour they should of course seek the advice of a GP or ringing NHS 111."

Further Information
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
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The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.