What Can Your Pharmacist Do For You?

Pharmacist giving advice to woman in shop

Research commissioned by PAGB (Proprietary Association of Great Britain) has revealed that nearly half of people (47 per cent) wouldn’t visit a pharmacist for advice or treatment for a self-treatable condition and less than one in 10 are using the wider services community pharmacists offer. Instead, many people are choosing inappropriately to visit their GP or A&E department, unaware of the pressure they are adding to already stretched services.

John Smith, Chief Executive of the PAGB comments: “It’s clear that more education is needed to change people’s behaviour when it comes to how they use GP and A&E services. It’s important to make people aware of the services pharmacies can offer and the skills and expertise they have. Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals that can offer a breadth of health and wellbeing advice.”

Photo of John Smith

John Smith, Chief Executive of the PAGB.

Nanette Kerr, Chief Executive of the Company Chemists’ Association comments, “Our companies work hard to educate, support and encourage people to use the services that all community pharmacies provide. In a world where NHS resources are finite, it is important that people feel empowered to utilise pharmacy resources to support them in their health choices – and pharmacists are willing and able to do that.”

Here are six services you might be surprised to find at one of the 11,764 community pharmacies in England:

1 Minor Ailment Scheme

Some pharmacies in the UK offer a “minor ailment scheme” to assist with common health problems such as aches and pains, skin conditions and stomach upsets. This is where a pharmacist can assess your condition and recommend the appropriate medicine. Pharmacies are well stocked with over-the-counter medicines and self-care medical devices that you can buy without a prescription to treat a wide range of self-treatable conditions. In some cases, pharmacists may also be able to provide those medicines free to those people who are exempt from prescription charges.

2 Vaccinations & Travel Advice

If you’re planning on taking a trip to faraway shores, it’s important to be well-informed about any health precautions you should take to have a happy and healthy holiday. However, you don’t have to go to your GP to get the information you need. Pharmacies are able to offer advice on any medications and vaccinations needed before visiting your destination. Many pharmacies also have a dedicated travel clinic where you can get those vaccinations and anti-malaria tablets. Some pharmacies also have online tools which offer advice dependent on the country of travel.

3 Disposal Of Old Medicines

You should regularly check the dates of the products in your medicine cabinet, as they may have been there longer than you thought and can be ineffective or dangerous if they are past their expiry date. If you do need to dispose of old or unwanted medication, it’s important to be aware of disposal best practice. Medicines should not be binned or flushed down the toilet; several scientific studies have found remnants of many medications in waterways which can pose an environmental threat. Take your unused or out-of-date medicines to your local pharmacy where they can be disposed of safely.

A young woman buying medicine in a pharmacy

4 Valuable Advice On Medicines

If you’re unsure about which over-the-counter medicine you can take alongside other medication, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, then a pharmacist will be able to help. Pharmacists are highly trained experts in using medicines safely and will be able to offer you advice and suggest medicines that you are allowed to take depending on your condition.

5 Promotion Of Healthy Living

Pharmacies are also committed to helping communities lead healthier lifestyles, with some obtaining status as a “Healthy Living Pharmacy”.  Pharmacy teams are able to provide advice on healthy living aspects such as diet, physical activity, weight loss and smoking cessation. They also have a good knowledge of food supplements that can support good health and are suitable for your lifestyle.

6 Health Management

Increasingly, pharmacies are offering additional services to enable self-management of health conditions and offer you a greater understanding of your own wellbeing. Some pharmacies now offer blood pressure tests, Type 2 Diabetes tests, hearing tests, skin analysis and even pain management services, all of which can be done in your own time without the need for a GP appointment.

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!