81% of people in Scotland now say they would seek health advice from their pharmacist for a range of health problems, compared to 72% who said they would do so back in 2002, according to a new survey carried out by YouGov.

Minor ailments now top the list of reasons why people in Scotland consult their pharmacists, with 76% saying they would a pharmacy for advice on problems such as hay fever, coughs and colds, while 24% would do so to seek advice on giving up smoking, 18% for a weight or diet issue and 17% for advice on contraception.

“The results clearly reflect the changing role of community pharmacy in Scotland,” said Sandra Melville, chairman of the Scottish Pharmacy Board at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), which published the survey. “People are recognising that pharmacists can provide a whole range of health services, information and advice,” she added.

“Pharmacies have undergone a major change over the last few years,” added Lyndon Braddick, the Society’s Director for Scotland. “Just over three quarters of all community pharmacies now have private consulting rooms, making it easier for people to feel comfortable talking about more personal issues.” The Society hopes that this trend will continue when, later this year, the Scottish government begins its roll-out of sexual health services, offering free Chlamydia testing and treatment and free emergency contraception across all community pharmacies in the nation. Smoking cessation services will also be rolled out as part of the expansion of pharmacy services.

“Pharmacy has a real role to play in making healthcare more accessible in the community and ease the pressure on the National Health Service (NHS),” said Mr Braddick.

The survey did show differing results between Scottish men and women, with 86% of women saying they would seek advice compared to 75% of men. Today, 95% of Scots live within a 20 minute walk, bus or car journey from their local pharmacy, says the Society.