During Ask Your Pharmacist Week (31 October-7 November), the NHS in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) is making people aware of the wide range of NHS services they can receive from community pharmacists.
Pharmacists are part of the NHS family and are one of the most accessible healthcare providers, with many being located very close to home. They offer a range of NHS services and should be the first port of call for common or minor conditions.
Irfan Motala, Lead Pharmacist with Vision Pharmacy, said: “Pharmacies are part of the NHS family and the range of clinical services we provide has expanded significantly in recent years.
“You have always been able to get prescription medicines, urgent care for common illnesses, lifestyle support and medicines advice from a pharmacist. But recently the NHS has built on this, with new services such as blood pressure checks for the over 40s and expanded support available for people with Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis, among other health conditions.
“Many pharmacists also offer an NHS scheme called the New Medicine Service. People sometimes have problems when they start taking a medicine they have not had before. If you’re prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term health condition for the first time, you may be able to get help and advice from your local pharmacist, who will support you over several weeks to use the medicine safely and to best effect.”
Satyan Kotecha, Community Pharmacist and Vice Chair of the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Pharmaceutical Committee, added: “There are 230 community pharmacies in our local area. Pharmacists have the training and skills to advise on many minor ailments which, previously, you needed to see a GP for. We are qualified to deal with a whole range of ailments, including bites and stings, swelling and pain, skin conditions, colds, coughs, earache and gastric problems.
“Pharmacists are highly accessible; you don’t need an appointment, it’s often much quicker and easier than waiting for a GP appointment and we can assess you confidentially, so you can have a conversation where other people can’t hear you.
“Pharmacies have become gradually more integrated with other parts of the health service, and one example of this is the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, which enables a member of the GP practice team, usually a receptionist, to refer the patient directly to a community pharmacist for appropriate health problems.”
Pharmacists can offer advice and treatment for minor illnesses such as coughs, colds and earache, advice on staying well and preventing disease, support to maintain good sexual health, help to quit smoking and personalised support to get the most from your medication.
For NHS services, convenient access to medicines, support for healthy living and prompt clinical advice, ‘Ask Your Pharmacist’.