People in Oxfordshire are being urged to seek life-changing health advice during their weekly shop, as a new survey suggested many may be missing out on free support at their local pharmacies.

Commissioned by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and Tesco, the YouGov survey revealed just 10 per cent of people in the South East have turned to their local pharmacy for advice on lowering their risk of serious health conditions including heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Now shoppers at stores across Oxfordshire are set to benefit, as the charities have joined forces with Tesco to deliver specialist training that will help Tesco pharmacy teams provide more information and support on how people can help lower their risk of these serious conditions.

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Speaking on behalf of the partnership, Ali Birkett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Oxfordshire, said: “With thousands of individuals and families across the region affected by these devastating conditions, it’s clear from our survey results that pharmacists are an untapped resource for many local communities.

“In the UK around four in 10 cancers, many heart and circulatory diseases and up to 5 in 10 cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed.

“That’s why, by teaming up with Tesco to create this world-class training programme, we want to harness the positive power pharmacy services have to help save and improve lives – all with the incredible convenience of being able to tick the weekly shop off the list at the same time.”

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Support could include advice on stopping smoking and helping people to manage their weight.

Underlining the need for the new initiative, in the South East 60 per cent of people are living with overweight or obesity.

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Also in the region, there are around 455,800 people living with type 2 diabetes, around 55,800 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year, and around a million adults are living with heart and circulatory diseases.

BHF, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK say that supporting people to make healthy changes and seek referrals for concerning symptoms could “save thousands of lives” every year.

Across Britain, of those who had visited a pharmacist for health-related advice or checks - 43 per cent said talking to a pharmacist had eased their concerns around wasting their GP’s time.

The survey also found only two per cent of people in the South East had visited their pharmacist for a blood pressure check in the last 12 months.

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Sandy Jack, Tesco Pharmacy manager for the South East, said: “Our Tesco pharmacy colleagues can provide information, resources and support.”

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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