Don’t forget that your local pharmacy can offer more than simply dispensing prescriptions.
That is the message from local health bosses, who want to remind residents that they can access a wide range of services.
As well as dispensing medication prescribed by GPs, your local pharmacist can offer advice on minor illnesses which are especially common at this time of year, including coughs, colds and sore throats.
Many pharmacies are open until late in the evening and at weekends, meaning there is no need to book an appointment, and you can speak to your pharmacist in complete confidence without anything having to be noted in your medical records.
Meanwhile, those who cutting down on their alcohol intake, or who have made quitting smoking or losing weight their New Year’s resolution, can also go to their pharmacist for help with achieving their healthy lifestyle goals.
Dr Aly Rashid, medical director for NHS England in Hertfordshire, said: “Many people are unaware of the services available to them from their local pharmacy, which is so much more than just a place to collect prescriptions.
“People often don’t seek advice for minor winter illnesses because they don’t think it’s serious enough and they don’t want to waste anyone’s time – but no problem is too small for your local pharmacist, who is a highly trained and trusted source of health advice.
“It’s estimated 50million visits are made to GPs every year for minor ailments such as coughs and colds. By visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble as you don’t have to book and wait for an appointment.
“Pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints, and they can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines to help clear up the problem. If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a doctor, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP instead.”
Other services available from pharmacies include:
· Help with your medicines. Pharmacists are trained experts in using medicines safely and they can advise you on the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medication – including remedies for minor illnesses that won’t interfere with your existing medication;
· Repeat prescriptions. If you’re regularly prescribed the same medicine, your pharmacist may offer to manage your repeat prescriptions, which means fewer trips to your GP just to get another prescription. Alternatively you can register for GP Online Services with your GP practice and request repeat prescriptions online to be collected from a pharmacist of your choice;
· Healthier living. Pharmacy teams can help you look after your own and your family’s health without you having to go to your GP – including advice on healthy eating, exercise, losing weight, stopping smoking, or if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or are overweight;
· NHS Health Check. Some pharmacies offer the NHS Health Check for people aged between 40 and 74. This is designed to stop early signs of stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia;
· Medicines Use Review. Many pharmacies now offer a detailed consultation about your medication called a Medicines Use Review (MUR). This is especially useful if you are taking several medicines and gives you the chance to discuss what you’re taking and any side-effects you may be concerned about. A MUR is free and is done in a private consultation room;
· Disposing of unwanted medicines. If your medicine is out of date, unwanted or you have some left over after you’ve stopped taking it, take it to your pharmacy to be disposed of safely.
To find out more about the range of services available at your local pharmacy, visit www.nhs.uk and search ‘Pharmacy’. For more information on staying well this winter visit www.nhs.uk/staywell