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Wednesday, 23 January, 2002, 00:57 GMT
Chemists 'first choice' for health advice
People are choosing pharmacists for medical needs
People are choosing pharmacists for medical needs
People are increasingly likely to go to a pharmacist for medical advice.

The 2002 Mintel survey into British Lifestyles found the number of consumers who would ask the pharmacist for help has increased by over a quarter over the last 10 years.

In that same period there has been more than a 5% fall in the number who would consult a GP.

There has been a drive in recent years to encourage people to ask their community pharmacist for health advice.

We know that every day nearly 2 million people seek healthcare advice from their community pharmacist

Marshall Davies, Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Advocates of the idea point to the wide body of knowledge pharmacists have.

Minor conditions can also be treated without the need to see a GP, saving patients' time and freeing up family doctors' time for more serious cases.

When they go to the pharmacist, patients are buying stronger and more effective over-the-counter medicines which are more expensive.

Marshall Davies, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain told BBC News Online: "This confirms what we know about the importance of Britain's 12,000 community pharmacies as a trusted source of healthcare and advice for people in the place where they live, shop and work.

"We know that every day nearly 2 million people seek healthcare advice from their community pharmacist.

"We would like to see this successful record developed and supported to ensure that communities continue to have access to the skills of pharmacists and the full range of medicines."

Health habits

One area which has not seen any growth in the latter part of the 1990s is the vitamin and dietary sector.

Mintel suggests people have been put off using these products because of recent scare stories.

The survey also looked at use of private healthcare and found that although use of the sector declined between 1991 and 1996, it is now showing signs of recovery.

People are cutting down on cigarettes rather than giving up
People are cutting down on cigarettes rather than giving up
Despite strong messages about the dangers of smoking, more than a quarter of adults in the UK still indulge in the habit.

More people are also cutting down compared to giving up altogether.

As cigarette prices have risen, smokers have increasingly turned to low-price bands.

For those who trying to get fit, swimming remains the most popular sport, though far fewer now go jogging.

Population growth

And one in 10 adults is a member of a health club.

The Mintel survey also predicts that by 2006, the general population will be expanding by 200,000 per year.

The rate of growth is set to be stronger for men than women.

In 2006 there will be just over 600,000 more men compared to 2001.

Mintel suggests that as much of the increase will come in the older groups, the image of single older women living alone will become more outdated.

The elderly and young adults will be the fastest growing groups in society over the next 5 years while the proportion of children in society will decline by almost 5% over that time.

See also:

06 Sep 01 | Health
Men's diets risk their hearts
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