By Bridgetta Anderson

As a brand, the pharmacy is undersold and under-recognised.

We all know about the strain on NHS resources. Yet we run to our GP’s office or hospital A&E department at the first sign of health concerns.

But pharmacists are so much more than pill counters.

Many of us still fail to realise the valuable resource on our high street – which doesn’t involve time spent pleading with a snotty receptionist for an appointment.

The general public need to better understand the pharmacy and what it can contribute. After all, a brand is created by its customers.

Most of us visit a pharmacist to fill out a prescription, but we fail to realise the wealth of other healthcare services available.

And while the most recent statistics reveal the average waiting time for a GP appointment is two weeks, now more than ever people need to consider if they really require a doctor - or if they can reduce the strain on the NHS and free up appointments for those who need it most, by seeking help elsewhere.

Here are just some of the ways a pharmacist can treat what ails us.

Help with healthier living

Want to stop smoking? Cut down on alcohol? Seek advice on safe sex? The pharmacist can advise on and provide everything from nicotine patches to emergency contraception. Bet you didn't know that.

Adapting to new medication

There is a scheme called the New Medicine Service, which allows patients to have private consultations with a pharmacist when taking a newly-prescribed drug for a long-term condition. This helps if there are any questions about how a prescription might mix with other medications, if there will be any side effects, and how to fit in the medication with your lifestyle.

Health checks

If you are getting to that age when you think a regular MOT for your body wouldn’t hurt - or perhaps there are concerns about a pre-existing condition which runs in the family - an NHS health check can be carried out by some pharmacies. This looks for early signs of stroke, kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, and is available for people aged 40-74. The pharmacist can discuss your results, and ways to reduce risk.

drug Disposal

After a medicine gets out of date, or a patient stops taking it, it’s much safer to hand this over to the pharmacist to dispose of it – rather than putting it in the bin or leaving it lying around the house.

Medicines Under Review

Taking multiple medications can be worrying – how they may react with each other, what time to take them, and if they could affect your ability to have over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. A free consultation with a pharmacist can advise on how to manage these and avoid side effects.If your customers don't know the services you offer, then your marketing isn't working.


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