First Citizens' Panel report

First Citizens' Panel report

First Panel Report

The first Citizens' Panel survey was conducted via online and postal surveys and telephone interviews between November 2016 and January 2017. It explored public perceptions on social care support, use of medicines and pharmacy services, and dental services for improving oral health.

The survey also asked Panel members for their suggestions for future topics.

Key Findings

Social care support

The survey covered a number of areas, with the first section being on the topic of social care support. Social care support refers to the personal and social care and support services that enable people to take control over their own life and play a part in their community. It includes supporting vulnerable children and young people, older people, people with learning disabilities, autism, physical disability, sensory impairment, mental health needs and people with drug and alcohol addiction or dependencies.

Survey on social care support, pharmacy service and use of medicines and improving oral health
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File type: pdf
File size: 5 MB
Publication date: March 2017

The questions within the survey were designed in collaboration with Inclusion Scotland, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), the Centre for Inclusive Living and Scottish Care and Scottish Government integration and policy officers. This section of the questionnaire collected information on:

  • where people go for information and assistance about social care support
  • awareness of Care Information Scotland, and
  • reasons for considering (or not) a career in social care support

The survey opened by asking Panel members about where they would go for information and assistance about social care support. The most popular sources were GPs (59%), the internet (56%) and local council social care department (56%).

Just over one in ten respondents to the survey (13%) were aware that if they provide social care support to someone, need social care support themselves or are planning for their future social care support needs, they can get information and advice at Care Information Scotland.

The majority of respondents (73%) had never considered working in social care support. The main reasons given for this were that Panel members felt they were too old or health issues prevented them from working in this area (25%) or that respondents were currently interested in or working in other sectors (21%).

Being able to help others and to make a difference or give something back were the main things that would attract Panel members to work in social care support (26%).

Using our medicines better

The second section of the questionnaire focused on pharmacy services and the use of medicines. The Healthier Scotland national conversation included recognition of the importance of GP services and the inconsistent levels of understanding that the first point of contact does not always need to be with a GP. The role of the pharmacist, in particular, has a contribution to make to improve access to health services and advice. Pharmacy colleagues at Scottish Government and Healthcare Improvement Scotland also expressed an interest in obtaining a public view on their work “Valuing Medicines”. The objectives of this section of the questionnaire were to gather views on:

  • the awareness and use of pharmacy services
  • frequency of seeking advice about medicines from a variety of healthcare professionals
  • reasons for seeking advice from a pharmacist about medicines and what would encourage people to do so
  • awareness that pharmacists (with the right qualifications) can now prescribe medicines
  • awareness of the yellow card scheme and the reporting of side effects with medicines
  • returning unused medicines, and
  • the regularity of taking medicines for ailments and illnesses

Respondents were asked whether they were aware or not of various services that can be provided when visiting a pharmacy. Respondents were most aware of the following pharmacy services:

  • Supplying medicines prescribed for me (96%)
  • A query on a minor problem (84%)
  • Minor Ailment Service (77%)

On the other hand, respondents were least aware that pharmacies can offer the following services:

  • A review of my medicines (23%)
  • Chronic Medication Service (24%)

Using this same list of pharmacy services, respondents were asked which of these they had used. The top three responses were consistent with the services Panel members were most likely to be aware of, with 93% stating they had been supplied with medicines prescribed for them, 56% receiving advice regarding a minor problem and 50% using the Minor Ailment Service. Services that were accessed the least by Panel members were the supervised use of methadone (2%) and the Needle Exchange Service (3%).

Respondents were asked how frequently they seek advice about medicines from a range of sources. Respondents were most likely to seek advice from their GP (93%). Respondents also stated they would seek advice about medicines from family or friends (61%), a nurse (63%) or online (63%).

Those who sought advice about medicines from a pharmacist (80%) were asked why they would do so. The most common comments have been coded thematically. The most common reasons for seeking advice about medicines from a pharmacist were:

  • for minor ailments/ don’t want to waste GP time (30%)
  • GP appointment takes too long/ pharmacist more convenient (29%)
  • pharmacist more qualified/ knowledgeable about medication/ they are experts (17%), and
  • pharmacists know about side effects/ medication interactions (15%)

Those who were not likely to seek advice from a pharmacist about medicines were asked what would encourage them to do so. The most common responses were:

  • I would seek advice if I require it/ hasn’t been required/ don’t take medication (19%)
  • if I knew more about what they do/ could prescribe (15%)
  • knowing they were qualified/ trust in pharmacist/ if they were recommended (13%), and
  • would want to discuss with GP first (12%)

Over half of respondents (53%) were aware that some pharmacists (with the right qualifications) can prescribe medicines.

Face to face was the preferred way of finding out more information on medicines with 64% stating they would prefer to find out in this way. This was followed by information leaflets (56%) and online (53%).

13% of respondents were aware of the Yellow Card Scheme, which allows people and professionals to report side effects from medicines through online forms, telephone, email and the Yellow Card app for smart phones.

More than half of Panel members who responded to the survey (53%) have experienced side effects with medicines. And of these individuals, the majority (80%) reported this to their GP. Only 1% of survey respondents reported this through the Yellow Card Scheme.

Over half of respondents (53%) said if they had any old or unused medicines in their cupboard they would take them to a pharmacist and over a third would put them in the bin with the rest of the household waste (34%).

All respondents were asked what would encourage them to return unused medicines to their GP surgery or local pharmacy. The top response was for improved information and advertising on where and how to do this (26%). A further 17% said they already do this and 15% suggested easy access points where they can drop medicines off.

Over six in ten respondents (61%) take medicines regularly for an ailment or illness and of these individuals 75% said they took multiple medicines.

Improving Oral Health

The Scottish Government launched a consultation on 15 September 2016 which aimed to seek the public’s views on dentistry and how oral health can be improved for everyone in Scotland. The first question in the consultation was included in the questionnaire and asked all respondents to select from a list of options, which they consider to be most important in improving oral health across Scotland.

Half of survey respondents selected ‘access to NHS dental services’ as their top priority. This was followed by the cost (18%) and quality (12%) of NHS dental care.

Opinions on the survey and suggestions for future topics

The vast majority of respondents found the questionnaire easy to complete with 68% stating they could answer the questions easily and a further 29% stating they found the questions within the questionnaire fairly easy to answer. Only 3% of survey respondents stated they could answer questions but with some difficulty and 1% found the questions difficult to answer.

To help plan for future Panel surveys, Panel members were asked if there were any other areas of health or social care support they would like to answer questions about. Over one in five respondents said they were happy answering questions on any or all areas of health or social care (22%). A further 17% would like to answer questions on mental health, 13% suggested research into elderly care and retirement accommodation and 13% said they would like to be asked about GP services, appointments, waiting times and the out of hours service.


Findings from the first Panel survey contributed to the Scottish Government's consultation on the future of oral health in Scotland.

A lack of public awareness about pharmacy services was reported on by Holyrood magazine and feedback from Panel members also informed the development of the Scottish Government's achieving excellence in pharmaceutical care strategy.

Last Updated: 22 May 2023