Too often people store up health problems because they don’t want to bother the GP – but the pharmacist is a good halfway house. These ten facts show the range of services that your pharmacist can offer.
All of these facts are taken from 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. Not just for pills - Pharmacists offer a range of services, including flu vaccinations, support to stop smoking, weight management advice and screening for conditions like diabetes
2. No appointments - If you’re worried about minor symptoms, such as a stomach upset or sore throat, you can speak to your pharmacist without an appointment, either in person or over the phone, so you can get advice straightaway. Call NHS 111 if you’re not sure about whether to speak to a pharmacist or see your GP about your symptoms
3. Stronger medicines - If you speak to a pharmacist about a specific health complaint, they may be able to give you stronger medicines than are available over-the-counter without a prescription, or advise you on whether or not you should see a doctor
4. Longer opening hours - Pharmacies often have longer opening hours than most GP surgeries, meaning it can sometimes be easier to get an after-hours service and advice. You can use the NHS pharmacy service to check opening hours.
5. Repeat prescriptions - Many pharmacies offer a free repeat prescription service, collecting prescriptions from your GP surgery so you can conveniently pick them up from a pharmacy near you. Some even deliver to your home!
6. Understand medication - If you are given new medication after a GP or hospital visit, a pharmacist can help you understand what it’s for and give advice on how to take it properly
7. Medicine usage review - If you take a lot of different medicines, ask your pharmacist about a medicine usage review. This is a chance to talk in private about what you’re taking, when you’re taking it, any side effects and raise any questions or concerns. If necessary, the pharmacist can suggest changes to your medication which you can discuss with your GP.
8. No charge for older people - Those aged 60 or over don’t need to pay any charges for prescription medicines.
9. Free medicine for a minor ailment – Some pharmacies run a minor ailment scheme. If the pharmacist thinks you need medicine for a minor illness and you don’t pay for prescriptions, they can give it to you free of charge.
10. Disposal of old or unwanted medicines - If you have any unused medicines at home, you can take them to your pharmacist who will dispose of them safely.
Order your free copy of Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older.