Bedminster Pharmacy come up with brilliant new way to raise awareness during COVID-19

The Pharmacy team at Bedminster Pharmacy have come up with a clever new initiative to raise awareness of pancreatic cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, using QR codes on posters and bag labels, to link patients and customers to Pancreatic Cancer Action’s symptoms page.

Bedminster Pharmacy QR poster

Bedminster pharmacy, run by our amazing Pharmacy Ambassador Ade Williams, have been long-time supporters of Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA) and have helped to run numerous campaigns to improve awareness of pancreatic cancer in the pharmacy and healthcare sector.

Their latest idea looks to use QR codes on posters and and bag labels to encourage their customers to learn more about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer, by linking them to PCA’s symptoms page.

Bedminster Pharmacy’s Poster

This latest initiative from Bedminster Pharmacy provides a simple solution to informing customers of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer, without having to have close communication with individuals and risk the spread of the virus.

As Bedminster Pharmacy’s Pre-reg pharmacist Joanne explains in the video, pharmacy customers simply need to scan the QR code with their phones and will be automatically directed to PCA’s symptom page for more info. Once on the website they can also find useful advice on the next steps to take if they are concerned that they may have the disease. The QR code has also been adapted to a pharmacy label that can be attached to all dispensed medicines from the pharmacy.

Joanne Lam, Pre-reg pharmacist within the group : “We decided to make the QR code because we needed to find a safe, engaging way for us to educate our patients on the symptoms of pancreatic cancer especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The time-limited interactions with patients in the pharmacy, needed to keep everyone safe, means this simple and easy idea, will most importantly- help make a key difference to increases pancreatic cancer symptom awareness and aid early diagnosis. This will saves lives.”

Ade Williams Lead Pharmacist adds: “I have seen how the pandemic has set back work to improve pancreatic cancer outcomes. Community Pharmacy teams have been at the forefront of efforts to protect and care for our communities during this time.”

We hope that by other pharmacies using Bedminster Pharmacy’s poster and dispensing label idea, more people will be inclined to learn about pancreatic cancer, leading them to recognise whether they are currently experiencing any of the symptoms, or if they do at any point in the future. This will significantly improve their chances of being diagnosed early and in time for surgery and could potentially save lives.

Download the Poster

Download the QR Code for Pharmacy Bags

The impact of COVID-19 on pancreatic cancer

It comes at a time of social distancing and limited contact as a result of COVID-19, which has so far had a devastating impact on pancreatic cancer patients, throughout the course of 2020.

The full scale of the impact on patients has recently become apparent following the new data published from NHS England. Which has found that patients have been significantly affected at every stage of their journey including referrals, diagnostics and treatment, and has contributed to the 4000 cases of cancer missed in Scotland between March and June.

Although we are now seeing some recovery, GP surgeries and hospitals remain stretched and pharmacies could help to provide the much-needed extra resources to restore referrals and diagnostics to pre pandemic levels.

Why it is important to know the symptoms of pancreatic cancer

Currently only 10-20% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed early enough, or in time for, potentially curative surgery. This is for several reasons, including a lack of simple screening or diagnostic tools, vague symptoms, and a lack of awareness.

Awareness of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer amongst the public is still very low, with half of all patients having not heard of the disease before their own diagnosis.

This is particularly damaging due to the already vague and non-specific nature of the symptoms, which can often be passed off as other illnesses and makes diagnosis difficult.

PCA places a significant focus on this area, as we know that by improving symptom awareness it will in turn have a knock-on effect, increasing the number of people diagnosed early and raising the overall survival rate.

Why pharmacies play a key role in our mission

PCA has always recognised the importance of pharmacies in our mission to improve the survival rate of pancreatic cancer. Pharmacist’s with a regular customer base are well placed to spot the potential signs and symptoms of the disease and can action urgent GP referrals when required.

Ade: “Our communities need our help to increase pancreatic cancer symptom awareness and early diagnosis. We are their pillar of dependable and accessible care. The challenge is insurmountable without our partnering with and supporting PCA.”

Ade has previously emphasised the importance of pharmacists knowing about the symptoms of pancreatic cancer in his blog entry and has recently highlighted the issues surrounding COVID-19 and health inequalities.