Are You Getting the Most out of Your Pharmacy? Unsure What You Can and Can't Talk to Your Chemist about? Abi Jackson Looks at the Health Services We Could All Use

The Journal (Newcastle, England), July 2, 2015 | Go to article overview

Are You Getting the Most out of Your Pharmacy? Unsure What You Can and Can't Talk to Your Chemist about? Abi Jackson Looks at the Health Services We Could All Use


Byline: Abi Jackson

HAVE you ever thought, 'I'll speak to the pharmacist about this'? Maybe when you're under the weather but not quite poorly enough to make an emergency GP appointment or rush to A&E, or when you're unsure about a new prescription and possible side-effects, or even just for general advice on, say, managing high blood pressure.

We've all read reports in recent years about how community pharmacies are under-used, yet could play a significant role in helping reduce the pressure on over-stretched GP practices and A&E departments - as well as providing a potentially very useful service to the public.

|Boots Angela "People are definitely using their pharmacist as a first port of call for non-serious ailments, but there will always be a need to promote this message," says Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers. "It's important people are reassured that even if it's something the pharmacist is unable to treat, then they will be signposted in the right direction."

The services don't stop at minor ailments, either. Did you know, for instance, at many pharmacies up and down the UK, you can pop in for advice on managing diabetes, get your cholesterol levels checked or find out which vaccines you'll need before travelling? While pharmacists' expertise centres on medications, "dispensing prescriptions is only part of what they can do" says Steve Riley, Care spokesperson and clinical pharmacist, and director at Medicines Optimisation Ltd.

Here are six reasons to consider consulting your pharmacist...

pharmacist Chalmers 1 Pharmacists have more time to talk IF you've left your GP appointment feeling a bit confused about your new prescription, or didn't remember - or have time - to ask all the questions you'd gone in with, a pharmacist might prove helpful.

Not only are they armed with knowledge on all things related to pharmaceuticals, they're trained in - and used to - talking to the public.

"Pharmacists are trained, have counselling skills and we talk to people all day! We deal with sensitive issues, so are used to being sympathetic and tactful if someone wants a quiet word," says Chalmers.

"You can get services and advice from any pharmacy, it doesn't have to be where you get regular medicines from. The team working alongside the pharmacist (pharmacy technicians, dispensers and counter assistants) are also trained to support and help you," adds Riley.

2 They can point you in the right direction LOTS of people put off going to see their GP because they don't want to be a burden, and sometimes you simply might not be sure whether your symptoms warrant a proper check or might be an A&E-worthy emergency, or perhaps you're just too anxious to go for that routine hospital scan.

Speaking to your pharmacist could help you feel reassured that you're making the most sensible decision. "Pharmacists are great at signposting you to the right health provider," says Chalmers. "This provides reassurance if people are confused about where to turn. You can even phone your local pharmacist to see what direction you need to go in."

Riley points out: "Pharmacists follow a professional code of ethics, similar to GPs. The key one is to put your needs first. So you can be assured they will provide quality advice, suitable treatment and refer you to another health professional or service if required."

3 You could be entitled to free medicine without a prescription A FEW weeks ago, a mother's Facebook post - about finding out she was entitled to Calpol free of charge after moaning about it - went viral. She was right; the NHS Minor Ailment Service allows pharmacies to issue treatments for minor ailments like coughs, colds, diarrhoea and mild eczema, without the need for a prescription and, if you're eligible (mainly under 16s and over 60s, though this may vary according to where you live), free of charge. …

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