Tesco has launched specialist training for staff in its in-store pharmacies to help shoppers “make life-changing improvements to their health”.
Britain’s biggest grocer has teamed up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF), Cancer Research UK (CRUK) and Diabetes UK to deliver training to its pharmacists and other pharmacy workers.
Employees across more than 200 of Tesco’s pharmacies have completed the courses, arming them with more detailed information and support to help customers lower their risk of cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes through changes to their day-to-day routines.
Those who have received the training will wear ‘Let’s Talk’ badges, making them easily identifiable to shoppers.
Tesco said pharmacy services have “untapped potential” to tackle such major health conditions across the UK. The leading health charities said supporting people to make lifestyle changes and seek referrals for concerning symptoms could “save thousands of lives” every year.
More than 7.6 million people in the UK are living with heart and circulatory diseases, 4.9 million are living with diabetes and almost 3 million are living with cancer. But it is estimated that 40% of cancer cases and half of all type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented or delayed.
Tesco’s move comes as a survey commissioned by the grocer, the BHF, CRUK and Diabetes UK revealed that people could be missing out on free access to potentially “life-changing” health advice via their local pharmacies.
According to the research, just 9% of adults in Britain have asked their local pharmacies for advice and information about serious health conditions.
But of those who had sought help from a pharmacist, 43% said that doing so had eased concerns about wasting a GP’s time.
Almost one in four people who visited a pharmacy for health-related advice said they found it easier to discuss the issue there than in other healthcare settings, while 53% identified the benefit of not having to book an appointment to speak to a pharmacist.
Paul Pilkington, head of pharmacy at Tesco, said: “Our Tesco pharmacy colleagues can provide information, resources and support on ways to help reduce your risk of developing cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart and circulatory disease.
“They are available for a private and confidential chat in our pharmacy consultation room, something 15% of people said was a benefit of visiting a pharmacy for information and/or advice about a health-related concern.
“As part of our role in supporting community health, we are encouraging customers to shop for affordable, healthy and sustainable food. Now, we want to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources and support available in Tesco pharmacies to help people live healthier.”
Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, added: “We’re proud to be working together with Tesco to help deliver this world-class training to Tesco pharmacists and pharmacy colleagues.
“Thousands of lives could be saved every year through people making positive changes that lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart and circulatory diseases.
“Far more people could be taking advantage of the advice and support available to them from their Tesco pharmacy while they do their weekly shop. This includes tips and information on stopping smoking and weight management services.”
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