Pharmacists should tell shoppers to lose weight, cut their alcohol intake and quit other unhealthy habits, according to new guidance from the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The guidance recommends pharmacists start conversations with shoppers about topics like weight loss when they pick up their prescriptions or buy over the counter products.
“Community pharmacy teams can engage with people who regularly buy over-the-counter medicines, collect prescriptions or ask for advice,” it states. “They can use the opportunity to start a more general conversation about health and wellbeing … offer support with adopting a healthier lifestyle, including stopping smoking, reducing alcohol consumption and managing weight.”
It adds that pharmacies should have areas that offer privacy for customers who want to discuss matters in more detail.
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, told the Telegraph that 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.
“A lot of people are conscious about their weight, but if they have a friendly association with their pharmacist and the right language is used, it could be a step in the right direction,” Fry added.
Primary care minister Jo Churchill said that as the health service treats more patients than ever before, it is paramount that patients can be assessed close to home, saving unnecessary trips to A&E or their GP and helping them get the care they need quicker.