More Than Medicine: Discover Your Local Pharmacy
When it comes to health care, there’s a treasure trove of support that’s often overlooked - and it’s just around the corner: your local pharmacy.
You don’t need an appointment. It’s often open late and at weekends. Medical advice is free, given by trained experts, entirely confidential - and it won’t appear on your medical records.
Yes, your local pharmacist can help with much more than selling medicines and dispensing prescriptions:
● You can get help with stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol.
● You can go to a pharmacy for emergency contraception.
● You can ask your pharmacist advice on everything from safe sex to weight management.
● You can get flu jabs, health checks, and personalised medicines guidance.
● You can reach out for support with long-term illnesses and minor ailments.
Why make an unnecessary trip to your GP for advice, support and treatment. Ease the pressure on our surgeries and avoid long waits by popping into your local NHS pharmacy.
Pharmacists are highly-trained health professionals, right on your doorstep. In fact, 90% of the population are within a 20 minute walk of a community pharmacy. Talk to them in confidence and reap the benefits of these brilliant pharmacy services:
Pharmacy services for medicine
Did you know, up to half of all prescriptions are not taken as intended by the GP? Ask your pharmacist how to make the most of your medicine - they’re the experts.
There are two handy schemes to support you with your medicine, from your very first prescription to dealing with multiple medicines:
The first is the New Medicine Service (NMS). If you’ve been prescribed a medicine for the first time, your pharmacist will support you over several weeks. They’ll make sure you’re using it correctly and respond to any problems you might be having. The free scheme aims to help those with long-term conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.
The second scheme is the Medicines Use Review (MUR). If you’re taking several medicines, you can discuss what you’re taking, when you should be taking them and the possible side effects. Your pharmacist will help you work this out for free, in the privacy of a consultation room.
There’s no need to go to your GP for a repeat prescription. If you’re regularly prescribed the same medicine, your local pharmacist can usually take care of this. With long-term medical conditions, your doctor may also give you a repeat prescription for a year. This way, you can get your medicine from your NHS pharmacy at regular intervals and save time going to the surgery.
What can a pharmacist prescribe? Many pharmacist independent prescribers can prescribe medicine (for conditions within their competence), including some controlled medicines. Don’t be put off if you can’t spot the drugs you need on the shelf - your pharmacist can often dispense stronger medicines than you see out front. You just need to have a chat with them first.
Having a clear-out of your medicine cabinet every six months helps to make sure they haven’t passed their expiry date. You can take any of these out-of-date or unused medicines to your pharmacist, who’ll dispose of it safely. Don’t flush it down the sink or toilet, or throw medicine in the bin - it poses a danger to children and the environment.
Pharmacy services for minor ailments
When it comes to common conditions and illnesses, many people head straight to their GP. But there’s an alternative - and you don’t need an appointment. Your pharmacist can assess and advise on minor ailments, suggest medicines if appropriate and help you decide whether you need to make a doctor’s appointment.
UK pharmacy services can help with aches and pains, as well as coughs, colds and sore throats. Your pharmacist can help if you have other conditions too - including flu, earache, cystitis and skin rashes. You can also pick up pregnancy test kits from your local pharmacy - some have private areas where you can use them.
Your pharmacist can prescribe the morning-after pill. This can be a faster way to receive emergency contraception, bearing in mind that the pill needs to be taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex - some surgery waits are much longer than that.
If your pharmacist thinks you need medicine for a minor ailment, they can give you it on the minor ailment scheme. This way, you receive your medicine on the NHS, without having to pay for it (unless you normally pay a prescription charge).
For example, if you have a small health issue but are well enough to work, pop into your local NHS pharmacy on your lunch break. You may be able to get the treatment you need on the minor ailment scheme - all without the journey and long wait at the surgery.
Out-of-hour pharmacy services
Whether it’s working late or looking after the kids, there’s not always time to book a medical appointment during daytime hours.
But community pharmacies are on every high street and even most supermarkets, with accessible services and community-based care.
Thanks to extended opening hours, as well as rota and on-call services, your local pharmacist can lend a helping hand at times other NHS services are unavailable.
From minor ailment schemes to medicine supplies, a pharmacy with late hours may even give you prescription-only medicines during out-of-hours times (although you might have to pay for this).
Healthier lives: pharmacist advice and services
Nothing’s more important than getting the right advice for you and your family. But you don’t need to book an appointment with your GP for expert help with your health.
Pharmacy services extend to all kinds of healthy lifestyle advice: nutrition, exercise, weight management, stopping smoking, and advice on alcohol consumption. These are particularly important if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.
More than 4,000 people quit smoking every month with counselling from an NHS pharmacy. Many offer nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine gum or patches. Have a chat with your local pharmacist and get help kicking the habit - regular catch-ups are brilliant smoke-free motivation.