Research finds we wait two weeks before seeking help for poor health and 9/10 of us lie when asked if we’re feeling OK
Pharmacy launches at-home checklists to help us take charge of our daily wellbeing
Far from feeling 100%, people in the UK only rate themselves as being 61% well on an average day* but typically wait two weeks before seeking professional help for a health concern – with GPs still the first port of call.
Across the country, people in Southampton feel healthiest – rating themselves as 67% well on average, with Cardiff residents feeling least well at just 54%. Nearly all of us (91%) admit to lying about feeling ‘fine’ when we are really less than 100%. Just one in 30 people felt 100% on the day they were questioned.
As the public debate on the best use of NHS services continues, a 2,000-strong poll by LloydsPharmacy found that 30 per cent of respondents turn to their GP in the first instance if they have any health concern, 18 per cent rely on the internet and just six per cent would go to a pharmacy first. Five per cent of 25-34 year olds say they end up in A&E every couple of weeks.
On average we wait 11 days to speak to a health professional about an upset stomach and five days for chest pains – including those with cardiovascular disease. But struggling on despite nasty symptoms could prove dangerous – the research found that people with asthma wait nine days before seeking help for wheezing, even though this could be a symptom of an asthma attack. The biggest reason for putting off seeking help for a health problem is being worried about wasting other people’s time.
Alison Freemantle, a pharmacist at LloydsPharmacy, says: “People are keeping quiet about health concerns for longer than they need to. We should be treating minor ailments quickly in order to prevent them from developing into more serious problems in need of treatment at already stretched GP surgeries or even A&E.
“Over a quarter of the people we surveyed said they didn’t have a source of professional health advice they could access quickly and easily – but the solution is already in every community. Just a fifth of people say they regularly use pharmacy for general health advice and our research also shows a lack of awareness of the wider services available in pharmacies.
“Pharmacists do more than just dispense medication; there are a range of services available that can help people better monitor their health to avoid the need for emergency treatment – such as blood pressure checks, Cholesterol measuring, Type 2 diabetes screening and asthma control checks.
“We passionately believe that the burden on the NHS could be reduced if people made the most of pharmacy services, taking control of how they are feeling today – and helping to prevent long term conditions in the future.”
UK pharmacists are highly qualified, training for at least five years and working closely with GPs and other health professionals to deliver services. They are often open for long hours and at weekends and can provide professional health advice without the need for an appointment.
The research also revealed that most people don’t know about the health checks available in pharmacies. Just 18 per cent knew that pharmacies provide asthma checks, only 27 per cent knew you could be screened for Type 2 diabetes – a rapidly growing problem in the UK – and a tiny six per cent knew that you could access cardiovascular disease risk screening. Just 12 per cent of people with a long term condition have had their medication reviewed by a pharmacist.
LloydsPharmacy has today launched two simple checklists designed to help you stay well and provide information about the pharmacy services that can help you manage your health in the long term. The checklists can be found at www.lloydspharmacy.com/dailyhealthcheck and www.lloydspharmacy.com/healthMOT.
Alison continues: “With our checklists we’re encouraging people to take charge of their health and seek help as soon as possible for any health complaints that may be hindering their quality of life.”