NPN | Why You Should Visit Your Pharmacy First

Pharmacists are experts in minor health concerns, offering clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for coughs, colds, sore throats and other aches and pains. At the core of every community, these health-care professionals are ready to step in when they’re needed, but not everybody takes advantage of the ease and expertise of their local pharmacy.

The ‘Stay Well Pharmacy’ campaign is dedicated to encourage everybody - but especially parents and carers of children - to turn to their community pharmacy for advice when it comes to minor health concerns. With most of us living within easy reach of a pharmacy that offers extended opening hours in the evenings and weekends, the pharmacy team is often the fastest and most convenient way to access clinical support with no appointment needed.

Pharmacists are trained to manage minor illnesses, so they’re perfectly suited to assess symptoms and recommend the best course of treatment - even in instances where simply providing reassurance is helpful. All pharmacies can answer questions on prescription and over-the-counter medicines, providing access to the repeat prescription service and an emergency supply of medicines (subject to the decision of the pharmacist). Pharmacists are trained to give treatment advice and provide over-the-counter medicine for a range of common conditions or minor injuries, including coughs, colds and skin rashes.

Over 90% of community pharmacies now offer a private consultation room, which means that even for personal issues, it’s a great first port of call - and if the symptoms suggest something more serious, pharmacists have access to the right channels to ensure people get the help they need.

It’s important that everybody does what they can to consider whether their need could be served by their local pharmacist, because diverting minor health concerns to pharmacies allows GPs time to be freed up for the more urgent issues and ensures A&E is left open for the real emergencies.

Post-pandemic, recovery measures have become a focus of the 2021-22 pharmacy quality scheme, which will allow pharmacies to implement health inequality training, produce action plans to promote Covid vaccines in minority communities, and improve remote consultations - so pharmacies will be able to further evolve their offering and serve more and more of the people who need it - without the waiting room:

“The pharmacy quality scheme is now a standard fixture in the community pharmacy contract, providing the sector with an excellent opportunity to show our commitment to patients, further develop our clinical practice and be rewarded for providing high quality care.”

- Alastair Buxton, PSNC’s director of NHS services