You and Your Health: How can your local pharmacy help you?

With Goodmeasure Pharmacy, Rotherham

Community pharmacies are a common fixture of high streets, neighbourhood centres and even supermarkets, with each playing a vital part in helping people live longer and healthier lives.

Nationally, we make around 1.6million visits to over 11,000 pharmacies every day. In fact, most people see their pharmacist more than any of the other three pillars of primary care – GPs, dentists and opticians.

But the role of a community pharmacy goes far beyond just dispensing prescriptions or supplying over-the-counter medicines. Pharmacies make a substantial contribution to the overall healthcare landscape, even more so since the start of the pandemic when other areas of primary care may have been harder to access.

Pharmacies offer a wide range of healthcare services, from vaccinations to health checks and help with healthy living. The advice they provide, combined with their accessible nature, acts as a buffer for the NHS, reducing pressure on other healthcare providers. 

Many pharmacies are open late and at weekends, and you don’t need an appointment to speak to a pharmacist. Community pharmacies across England deliver 58 million informal, appointment-free consultations per year, saving the NHS some 24 million GP appointments.   

Pharmacists have a unique expertise and knowledge in the safe use of medicines and are on-hand to advise about how patients can get the most out of their medication. But we have also continued to develop our skills to provide more clinical services and support with minor health concerns such as tummy troubles, common viruses, or general aches and pains.

We have so much to offer patients, but many people don’t realise the full extent of our services.

So, how can your pharmacy help you?

New Medicine Service (NMS)

If you have a long-term condition such as asthma, COPD, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, pharmacists are able to provide support with any medicines you have been prescribed to help improve medicines adherence. This has recently been expanded to now include conditions such as high cholesterol, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, gout and osteoporosis. Free consultations are available conversation with your local pharmacist to get the most from newly prescribed medicines.

NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS)

Launched in 2019, the CPCS connects patients with pharmacies for emergency supplies of medicines or for advice on minor conditions following NHS 111 or GP referral. Should the patient need to be escalated or referred to an alternative service, the pharmacist can arrange this.

Vaccination Service

Pharmacists administer a range of vaccines including the NHS flu vaccination to eligible adult patient groups, Covid-19 vaccines and boosters, and travel vaccinations for private patients. Some larger pharmacy groups also offer vaccines for HPV and pneumonia.

Healthy Living

As part of their essential services, all pharmacies should offer advice about healthy living. This may vary at each pharmacy but often includes help with weight management, stopping smoking, or blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar checks. Some pharmacies also provide sexual health services such as emergency contraception and STI screening.

Above all, community pharmacies are adaptable and will continue to strive to further improve patient outcomes in the communities we serve.