Tuesday 21 January 2020 4:31 AM UTC
LONDON Jan 21: The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice), which advises the NHS, has released new guidance encouraging chemists to talk to customers about cutting alcohol intake and quitting other unhealthy habits.
Releasing a new “quality standard” on the issue, Nice said pharmacists are being told to start conversations about a customer’s health when people come to pick up their prescriptions or buy over-the-counter products.
With pharmacies a mainstay on the high street, the NHS argue they are well placed to give health advice and could relieve pressure on the health service.
“Community pharmacists engage every day with people who buy over-the-counter medicines, collect prescriptions or ask for advice,” Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said.
“This is a vital opportunity to support people to maintain good health but also signpost them to other health services.”
However, critics have warned that sensitive customers could be offended, regardless of the chemist’s good intentions.
“Popping into the local chemist and having a chat about health issues is, for a lot of people, hugely less threatening than a formal appointment with the doctor,” Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said.
“Chemists welcome this contact as they seek to play a greater role in their customers’ wellbeing.
“When it comes to weight issues, some will appreciate that extra training may be required to handle the conversation, but that will be par for the course for a health professional.”
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