Pharmacists working in high street pharmacies are highly-trained health professionals, who can help with lots of health-related matters as well as supply medicines.
A new public health campaign is urging people to consult a pharmacist first for minor illnesses, such as sore throats, coughs and colds, instead of booking a GP appointment, which is estimated to cost the NHS £31. The Stay Well campaignaims to reduce the number of unnecessary doctor and hospital visits, which are estimated to cost the NHS £850 million per year.
Here are a few things your pharmacist can help with:
1. A minor ailments service
Pharmacists are well trained to respond to symptoms and recommend over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for common illnesses such as eye infections, diarrhoea, hay fever, fever, colds, coughs, skin allergies and indigestion. Some pharmacies also offer a minor ailments service, which means that they can supply medicines for certain conditions on the NHS. Ask your local pharmacy if they offer this service. If you are entitled to free prescriptions and are registered with a doctor who is taking part in the local minor ailments scheme you can use this service. Only certain minor ailments are covered by this service – your pharmacist may refer you to your doctor if your symptoms cannot be treated under the scheme.
2. Helping you quit smoking
Your pharmacist can offer you advice and help you start a quit smoking programme. Some pharmacies offer a quit smoking service that involves you seeing the smoking cessation advisor each week.
3. Travel health advice
You can get great travel health advice, a supply of malaria tablets and even travel vaccinations from a pharmacy. Many pharmacists now offer now offer malaria prevention consultations, which allows you to get antimalarial medicines without seeing your GP, whilst some pharmacies have travel clinics that offer travel vaccinations.
4. Flu vaccinations
Most pharmacies now offer flu vaccinations during the winter months. This means that you can get a flu vaccine at a time that suits you without having to visit the doctor’s surgery.
5. Healthy living advice
Pharmacists can offer you excellent support to improve your health and wellbeing. There are many high street pharmacies that are now recognised as Healthy Living pharmacies, which means they have trained staff who can offer healthy lifestyle advice such as healthy eating, losing weight, keeping active and drinking less alcohol. Some pharmacies also offer health checks that look at your blood pressure and risk of diabetes.
6. Emergency contraception
A pharmacist can help with emergency contraception. You can purchase Levonelle One Step or Ella One emergency contraceptive tablets from your pharmacist after a consultation. Some pharmacists also offer a service that allows them to supply emergency contraception on the NHS to women aged 16 to 24.