Did you know that free, qualified, face-to-face healthcare advice could be just a stones-throw from your front door?
Far from being simply a pickup-point for prescriptions, the role of the Community Pharmacy is to provide a range of professionally curated and performed services that are accessible to all. In fact, 89% of England’s population are within a 20 minute walk from their local CP- and within that reach comes a slew of useful facilities and resources that don’t require a prior booking to take advantage of. Here’s a glance at the comprehensive, free services that could be on offer at your community pharmacy.
Public Health (Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles)
With over 1 million visitors a day across the U.K, often pharmacists become the primary point of contact between healthcare professionals and the general public- putting them in the ideal position to provide relevant and trustworthy advice on a range of health-related topics. This is an essential service, and must be offered at every NHS-registered pharmacy within the UK. NHS England carries out 6 public-health related campaigns a year, and it is the duty of each community pharmacy to promote them and encourage discussion around the relevant topics. These campaigns have included flu vaccination, controlling alcohol intake, and managing obesity. Whatever the ailment, your pharmacy will have a well-informed and trained professional to advise you on lifestyle and general health queries in a confidential and judgement-free environment.
Medicines Under Review/Prescription Intervention
These are Advanced services- meaning not all pharmacies will offer them (though they are almost universally provided). An MUR is a review and discussion between the patient and pharmacist regarding former’s use of their prescribed treatment- it seeks to improve the patient’s knowledge of their medicine and its effects, and thereby increase their adherence to the required regime and reduce wasted medicines. A PI is essentially the same, but only occurs when an issues arises with the patients’ adherence that necessitates another review. If you are experiencing any mild, unexpected side effects of your new prescribed medicine then your pharmacy should be your first port of call. However, these services are not a replacement for a full clinical review, and if further attention is needed a GP appointment will be advised.
Minor Ailments Management/Pharmacy First
Many visits to higher-cost and over-subscribed services, such as GP visits, turn out to be for ‘minor ailments’- conditions which do not require emergency attention and can be tended to at your local community pharmacy. In order to combat unnecessary appointments being made, and alleviate some of the pressure on the NHS and its staff , some pharmacies offer this advanced service (search and find them here), which covers illnesses such as colds, aches & pains and minor skin irritations/rashes. Pharmacists must have the necessary accreditation to provide this service, and are able to offer confidential advice and treatments whilst freeing up GP appointments and A&E space for those with more serious health issues. So next time you’re feeling under the weather, consider popping into you local pharmacy before joining the queue for a GP appointment- it could save you time and benefit our NHS services!
New Medicine Service (NMS)
This is a recently introduced service that offers advice to those with long-term conditions that have taken on a new medicinal treatment. Currently, support is offered to those with lung conditions (such as asthma), type 2 diabetes, conditions that require blood-thinning medicines, or hypertension. It consists of 3 appointments over 4 weeks, and aims to introduce the patients to their new medicine, and ensure that they are administering it correctly and without trouble. This service not only addresses some of the anxieties and uncertainty that may come with introducing a new treatment to a longstanding health issue, but also prevents patients developing poor habits or adherence to their medicinal regime by catching them early. It is currently only available to those living within the UK, but friendly advice can still be obtained from any walk-in pharmacy by anyone who seeks it.
So there we have a brief overview of just a few of the priceless and practical services offered at your local pharmacy- truly invaluable institutions!