Rachel Power, the chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “We would not want to see parents put off taking their children to see a doctor if they have any suspicion that something more serious could be wrong.”Dr Bruce Warner, the deputy chief pharmaceutical officer for England said: “Pharmacists are highly trained NHS health professionals who are able to offer clinical advice and effective treatments for a wide range of minor health concerns right there and then.“However, if symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, they have the right clinical training to ensure people get the help they need.” The campaign, launched today and backed by pharmacists, will urge more parents to “use their pharmacy first” for minor health concerns such as coughs, colds and stomach problems.Sandra Gidley, the chairman of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society England Board said: “It is great to see a campaign putting pharmacists at the front of people’s minds when it comes to getting clinical advice and over the counter medicines for minor health concerns.” “Parents aren’t qualified to know whether an illness which seems minor actually is something far more serious – and while pharmacists are highly trained, they are not medical trained either,” he said. Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “Most of the time when a child [has] the snuffles it’s not likely to turn serious – but identifying the subtle differences is really difficult for parents, and things can turn nasty really quickly.“Parents aren’t doctors, and pharmacists aren’t doctors either,” she said. “We know the NHS is overloaded but this is a very high risk strategy.” Parents are being urged to take sick children to pharmacists instead of to GPs or A&E departments under controversial new NHS advice.Health officials said millions of families could get help more quickly and save NHS resources if young children with minor illnesses were taken to their local chemists.But major charities raised fears that parents could struggle to identify potentially lethal symptoms, putting their children in danger, as they tried to ease pressures on the health service.The advice from NHS England comes after the death of a teenager with flu, whose parents had delayed seeking treatment in response to NHS pleas to avoid needless A&E visits.Today’s campaign, aimed at five million parents with children under the age of five, says 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million A&E visits are being taken up by patients with conditions that could have been treated at home. But charities warned that parents could struggle to identify situations that could rapidly deteriorate and make a tragic wrong decision because they felt guilty about taking their child to the doctor.Dr Ron Daniels, the chief executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, urged parents to “trust your instincts” and seek medical help if they had any doubt. 18 million GP appointments and 2.1 million A&E visits are being taken up by patients with conditions that could have been treated at homeCredit:sturti Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.