SCRABBLING for a doctor’s appointment at 8am is never fun.
But did you know you can sometimes skip the phone queue at the doc’s and see your pharmacist instead?
Pharmacies across England are set to offer a range of new prescriptions you can get without seeing your GP[/caption]
What’s more, pharmacies across England are set to offer a range of new prescriptions you can get without going to your GP.
The Government announced last week that patients will be able to get scripts from a pharmacist for seven common ailments.
These include earache, sore throat, sinusitis and skin infection impetigo.
Drugs for shingles, infected insect bites and uncomplicated UTIs in women will also be covered by the scheme, which is set to begin this winter or early next year.
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “It is a great idea to bring us on par with Scotland, where similar rules already exist.”
Pharmacies will also carry out millions more high blood pressure checks and dole out contraception, saving yet more GP appointment time.
Here is Sun Health’s guide to what services and help your local pharmacist can provide.
YOUR GP shouldn’t be your first port of call for every ailment.
Malcolm Harrison, chief executive of The Company Chemists’ Association, said: “Pharmacies already offer a range of services including screening for various conditions such as chlamydia and cholesterol, vaccinations for flu and Covid, and support with new medicines.”
Pharmacies already offer a range of services including screening for various conditions such as chlamydia and cholesterol, vaccinations for flu and Covid, and support with new medicines[/caption]
Michael Sam-Yorke, pharmacist, clinician and independent prescriber, adds: “Pharmacists are always more than happy to help with almost any medical inquiry.
“Even if they don’t have the answer, they can point you in the right direction of where you can get the answer from – we call it signposting.
“We’re experienced in dealing with minor ailments to diagnosing chronic conditions as well, because we know what the red flag symptoms are.”
Don’t be rash
RASHES can be nasty as well as scary, but many can be fixed quickly by a trip to the pharmacist.
They have expert knowledge and can advise you on which over-the-counter ointments and creams are best, based on the type of rash you have – for instance, if you have eczema or psoriasis.
But if you suspect you or a child have a rash related to meningitis, measles or scarlet fever – which may feature a rash alongside blotchy skin, swollen glands, fever, nausea or vomiting – you must call the GP.
MINOR conditions that give you the sniffles are a pharmacists’ bread and butter.
Be it a blocked or runny nose, sore throat, headache, coughs, sneezing or a raised temperature, they can help with over-the-counter drugs.
Depending on how you feel, they may advise a decongestant or spray to help clear a blocked nose, or flu remedies to relieve coughing, shivers, headaches, runny noses and a scratchy throat.
But if you’ve been coughing for three weeks or more, speak to your doctor, as it may indicate an underlying condition.
HIGH blood pressure affects one in four people and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Fortunately, the NHS has introduced a Community Pharmacy Blood Pressure Check Service.
It is free at your pharmacy if you are over 40, haven’t been identified as having high blood pressure before and haven’t been checked in six months.
Malcolm said: “By 2026, we estimate pharmacies will deliver 15million blood pressure checks, preventing up to 15,000 heart attacks and strokes.”
Aches and pains
NAGGING joints and tender muscles?
Whether you hit the gym too hard or overdid it in the garden, you don’t need to suffer or battle for a GP appointment.
Your pharmacist can talk you through the art of using ice packs to relieve swelling and pain relief options, from paracetamol to anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen, although the latter should not be taken in the first 48 hours if the pain is caused by injury.
However, if you’re in so much agony you can’t do normal activities or get to sleep, you should see a GP.
WORRIED about sharing a problem in the middle of your high street pharmacy?
Michael says: “You can always speak to a retail pharmacist privately. Every pharmacy has a consultation room, which is soundproof and designed for you to be able to take your time, speak to your pharmacist confidentially and get advice about anything you may be going through.
“Simply request to speak to them in the consultation room and they will be happy to do so.”
Who you gonna call?
WHEN TO CONTACT NHS 111: This number is for when you need medical help right away.
It can help direct you to the best place to get what you need, including a pharmacist or GP.
You should only call 999 in a life-threatening medical emergency[/caption]
It is particularly useful if you can’t contact your GP.
You may be advised to call 999 or go straight to A&E if your condition is serious.
And in some cases, you can get help over the phone.
WHEN TO MAKE A GP APPOINTMENT: Until the new pharmacy delivery plan is brought in, only a GP or specialist doctor can prescribe medications.
So if you have any of the seven ailments listed above, need prescription drugs, or need to make an urgent appointment, call your family doctor.
They can also provide fit notes for work.
WHEN TO CALL 999: You should only call 999 in a life-threatening medical emergency.
This includes signs of a heart attack, like pain, pressure or squeezing across the chest, and if you or someone else appears to be having a stroke.
Other conditions you should ring 999 for include: sudden confusion, suicide attempts, difficulty breathing, choking, severe injuries, seizures and heavy bleeding.
Parents should also call 999 if their child is unable to stay awake, is limp and floppy, has blue, grey, pale or blotchy skin, tongue or lips, or has sudden rapid swelling of the lips, mouth, throat or tongue.