Sid also contributed to our new Wise Guide: Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older which provides advice on the many healthcare options available and how to make the most of their services. You can order a free copy or read it online.

1. If you take the same medicines regularly, ask your pharmacy if they can organise your repeat prescriptions. That way, you’ll never run out of medicines. Have them delivered on time or ready to collect when you want them. You don't have to take your repeats to the surgery - either leave them at the pharmacy, call them when you need them or request a repeat dispensing service. This is where the GP can issue up to a year’s worth of prescriptions held by the pharmacy and you just go along and collect them as you need them. No need for GPs or putting repeats in.

2. Get vaccinated at a pharmacy. Many local pharmacists can now give the flu vaccination to all over 65s on the NHS. You can also get private travel vaccinations from some pharmacies. It’s free, confidential and private. We only let the GP know you've had it so they can update their records.

3. Query about your medicines - just ask us. We spend 4 to 5 years at university studying medicines. Either call us or come in. If you take medicines regularly, most pharmacies can conduct a confidential Medicines Use Review (MUR) in store which takes about 15 minutes. We can advise you on why you’re taking different medicines, potential side effects to look out for and how to use medication safely. It can be particularly good to have an MUR if you’ve recently been in hospital and had your medications changed. Up to 66% of the people I see need to make small changes which often result in huge benefits and sometimes I may need to talk to your GP about changes in your prescription. This is a free NHS service and although you can call a pharmacy anytime for advice, you are entitled to at least one MUR check a year. 

4. Healthier Living - If you have any questions or need advice on living a healthy lifestyle, just speak to us. Whether it’s about diet, weight management, smoking cessation, alcohol or sexual issues, we can usually help. Although pharmacies are considered places for medicines, we are also 'health and well-being' centres. Some pharmacies do NHS clinics on different issues – for example on losing weight, managing diabetes or lowering blood pressure – which are free if you do not pay for your prescriptions. NHS Choices and your GP or local pharmacy can direct you to the nearest pharmacy that offers these services.

5. Let pharmacies be your first port of call for any condition or screening.Some pharmacies can offer NHS approved and accredited screening for a variety of conditions such as diabetes or allergies. They might also offer blood pressure checks and cholesterol tests. The earlier you catch your condition, the easier it will be to manage it - you might get better sooner or have fewer complications. 

Order your free copy of Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older

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