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Milk, bread, cholesterol and blood pressure?

By Timothy Cocks Science and the world 29 Jul 2014

Woolworths health checks: Pharmacists concerned over moves to allow check-ups in supermarkets

“Woolworths has confirmed it is hiring final year pharmacy students, graduating pharmacists and nurses to conduct health checks such as blood pressure and cholesterol in their stores.

In an advertisement on employment website, a company called XPO Brands is looking for “final year pharmacy students, graduate pharmacists and entry level nurses” to conduct checks such as blood pressure and cholesterol, and “engage in general health discussions”. It says it wants someone who is “a real people person and happy to talk to shoppers passing by”.

But the Pharmacy Guild says it is worried about whether recruits are suitably qualified to conduct health checks and provide advice on medicines, and whether they are trained in and comply with privacy requirements.

“It’s a hypocritical and frankly a public disservice that a supermarket giant which profits so heavily from retailing tobacco and alcohol products – which are the biggest preventable causes of ill health and death – is claiming to be interested in health care,” the Guild’s George Tambassis said.”


Of course, my thoughts went straight to the question “what happens when a person approaches one of these students/graduate pharmacists/graduate nurses to ask about their pain?” A (very) brief scan of literature on prevalence of symptoms presenting to General Practitioners suggests that 1 in 7 of all GP visits are for “musculoskeletal problems”, pain is a significant factor in people seeking out of hours care (along with infectious diseases) and anxiety, back pain and depression are associated with greater patient demand for general practice services than other health problems. Extrapolating from here, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that a significant number of people willing to undertake a “general health discussion” would be so as a result of experiencing pain.

I can think of many compelling reasons why this whole idea is not a good one, and none for why it might be.

I’d be interested if noijam readers in other countries have seen anything like this up and running.


-Tim Cocks


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  1. Hi Tim,
    My only experience is, and I’m certain for all of us the same, is that when someone learns that I am a physiotherapist the very first response is:- “Really, can I just ask you, you see I have this pain”………..Sometimes I choose to be a Tax Inspector ……..:-;
    Still Surfing🏄🏄🏄

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