“It is estimated that as many as a fifth of people attend GP practices with health issues that could be dealt with just as well by a community pharmacist.”
Boots Chemist, one of the UK’s biggest pharmacy chains, has recently carried out a poll to find out how many people would think of going to their pharmacy for health advice.
The results showed that it would only be one in three people, with 91% believing that the main role of a pharmacist is to dispense medicine.
In actual fact, dispensing medicine is only a very small part of what your local pharmacist is now able to offer you. As a GP out of hours service provider, we are continually trying to draw people’s attention to alternative health services including pharmacies, walk-in centres and urgent care centres. Those of you who follow us on Twitter, will be familiar with #thinkpharmacyfirst which we use regularly to encourage our service users to make more use of their local pharmacy.
So, alongside Boots, we too want to draw your attention to the wide range of services your pharmacy provides, not only to help with treatment when you become ill, but also to prevent illness in the first place.
“It’s important people are made more aware of what’s available on their doorstep in pharmacies so they don’t make unnecessary trips to the GP or even A&E.
“Community pharmacies provide prompt access to professional healthcare advice and now offer a wide range of clinical and public health services, as well as treatments for common ailments.
“You might be surprised at what pharmacies now offer: personalised medicines advice, help to quit smoking and to maintain good sexual health, treatment for common ailments, advice on preventing disease and more. It’s a package of care, not just packets of pills.”
In addition to these services and those listed in our pharmacy advice blog article, this winter, those eligible for the winter flu jab will be able to receive it from selected pharmacies, including Boots. In fact, due to the high number of extra services provided by many of Britain’s pharmacies, more and more of them are now beginning to act as “health hubs”, rather than places where you simply pick up your medicine.
Raising awareness about the extra services pharmacies provide is going to become increasingly important for future healthcare.
It is estimated that the number of people living with three or more long-term health conditions will rise to 2.9 million by 2018. These figures are particularly significant as half of all GP appointments and 70% of hospital beds are taken up by people who have one or more long-term health condition. It is hoped that making people more aware of the additional services available at their local pharmacy will help alleviate future pressure on hospitals and GPs, not only be freeing up beds and appointments, but also by educating patients so they are better equipped to self care.
You can find out where your nearest pharmacy is by using NHS Choices pharmacy finder.
For more information on alternative health services in East Berkshire, please spend some time reading the other articles in our news section.