Did you know that perhaps one in seven GP appointments could be dealt with by pharmacies? This equates to 40million appointments per year. You may think of your local pharmacy as just a place to pick up your prescriptions or toiletries – but there is more to a pharmacy than meets the eye.

A recent article in the BBC health news

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25744060. highlighting the services pharmacies now provide, struck a chord with me. Having qualified as an independent nurse prescriber in 2011, many of the consultations I now deal with involve minor illness – i.e. sore throats, coughs, colds, sinusitis etc… Interestingly numerous student patients who present have not self treated by taking any over the counter medicines to help ease their symptoms. For those that are unsure about what to take, many have not consulted with a pharmacist for advice. In reality, after careful assessment, the majority of minor illness we see in general practice tends to be of viral origin – so antibiotics are not indicated – advice is then to take regular ‘over the counter’ medications i.e. paracetamol, ibuprofen (if safe to take) rest and fluids. These medications can be bought very cheaply from your local pharmacy.

A pharmacist can deal with and advise on cold and flu symptoms.

The Pharmacy Voice chief exec states that ‘Pharmacy is the third largest health profession (in the health sector) after medicine and nursing, yet people still don’t really know who we are and what we do’.

Pharmacists have been given increasing responsibility within the NHS, and many professionals, like myself, can also now prescribe ‘prescription only medicines’; medicines that only a Doctor might previously have prescribed for you. They are also able to sell Pharmacy ‘P’ medications i.e. antibiotics eye drops for eye infections, emergency contraception, vaginal thrush treatment; and provide stop smoking advice, pregnancy testing and sexual health screening.

 

‘Community pharmacies are perfectly capable of taking the strain from GP and A+E departments that are bursting at the seams.’ One out of every four people who go to A&E could have been treated elsewhere in the community, or could have self-treated. Your local pharmacy can help treat common illnesses.

Please pick up this leaflet from SHS or download from the following: http://www.bristolccg.nhs.uk/media/25934/feelingunwell_choosewell.pdf.