Our grateful thanks to the PAGB and Michelle Riddalls for their input to our radio report which you can hear again via the audio player at the bottom of this page.
As we reported, there’s been a concerted effort both before and during the pandemic for us all to utilise the expertise of local pharmacists for self-treatable conditions and self care to help alleviate pressure on the NHS.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, there were an estimated 18 million GP appointments a year and 3.7 million A&E visits a year for conditions that people could have treated themselves or seen a pharmacist about. The cost to the NHS, alongside unnecessary prescriptions for products which could be bought over the counter, was estimated by consumer healthcare association, the PAGB, to be £1.5 billion a year.
The good news is, according to the outcome of a UK-wide survey commissioned by the PAGB, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic more of us are visiting pharmacies for health advice and help with self-treatable conditions. If this behavioural change is carried forward it could improve access to healthcare professionals and save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds.
Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can give advice and recommend treatments for self-treatable conditions such as coughs, colds, flu, ear ache, cystitis, red eye, skin rashes, teething, sprains, aches and strains. If symptoms suggest it's something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to see a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.
If you have a long-term condition and are worried how common illnesses may be affecting you, or if you want advice on managing your medicines, rather than book a GP appointment, visit your pharmacist first – as we heard, they are eminently qualified to help.
Other services that may be available at your local pharmacy:
• you may be referred to a pharmacist for advice after contacting NHS 111 or a GP
• emergency contraception
• asthma inhaler use and advice
• chlamydia screening and treatment
• stop smoking service
• blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing
• substance misuse service, including needle and syringe exchange schemes
• weight management service
• flu vaccination
Listen to this weeks radio report
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