With increased pressure on NHS services across the country, pharmacists have a vital role to play in helping people manage their health. Pharmacists do a lot more than dispense medication, but not everyone knows about the range of other services they offer.
Research we commissioned found that the general public are very open to visiting pharmacists instead of GPs. More than half of the people we polled said they would see their pharmacist instead of their doctor for advice regarding a specific minor illness or injury. However, there is more to be done to help people understand the services and support pharmacies can provide.
Here are four ways your pharmacist can help you.
1. Support with minor ailments
Pharmacists can offer advice and over-the-counter medication to help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries. You can see them for help with typical Winter ailments such as coughs, colds and the flu, as well as day to day issues, such as aches, pains, skin rashes and cystitis. Many pharmacists can also help with access to the morning after pill, pregnancy tests, and needle exchange services.
You don’t need to make an appointment to see a pharmacist and they will let you know if you need to see a doctor.
2. Help with your medication
If you have a question about medicine you’ve been prescribed or that you’ve bought over the counter, speak to your pharmacist. They are experts in how to use medicines safely.
People starting a new medicine to treat a long-term condition may be able to seek extra help from their local pharmacist through the New Medicine Service (NMS). This free scheme offers support over several weeks when you try a medicine for the first time. The NMS is only available for those taking certain medicines. Visit NHS Choices for more information.
If you’re taking lots of different medicines, you may be able to have a Medicines Use Review (MUR) with your pharmacist. This will help you work out when you should be taking your medication and discuss any questions or side effects. An MUR is a free service conducted in a private consultation room in the pharmacy and a written record will be given to you and your GP.
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Save yourself a trip to your GP by asking your pharmacist to manage your repeat prescriptions for you. If you take medication on a regular basis and your condition is stable, your GP may be able to offer a long-term repeat prescription so that your pharmacist can supply your medicine at regular intervals. In the event that you experience problems with your medicine, tell your pharmacist and they can consult your GP.
Speak to your doctor to find out what is possible for your medication.
4. Help to live a healthy life
As well as helping you tackle ailments when they happen, pharmacists can also help you to have a healthy lifestyle. Rather than visiting your GP, go to your local pharmacy for advice on how to keep your family well. You can talk to them about how to eat healthily, lose weight, and the types of exercise you could be doing.
Pharmacists can also help you to stop smoking. They offer nicotine replacements, such as gum, patches or other medicines, as well as regular check-ins to help you stay motivated.
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