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Pharmacies, also called chemists, are one-stop health shops. Their services range from dispensing medicines and offering advice on minor ailments to running clinics and helping you manage conditions such as asthma or diabetes.

Finding out if you need to see a doctor

All pharmacists have to be registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. They can give you expert advice on medicines as well as many common conditions - without an appointment and sometimes outside usual hours.

They are often worth a visit before you head to your local doctor and can help you decide whether you really need to see your GP.

Pharmacists can also give you information about other local health services.

Getting medicines

Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines and dispensing them is an important part of their job. You can obtain both over-the-counter medicines (which do not need a prescription from your doctor) and prescribed medicines from a pharmacist.

Repeat dispensing means they can supply you with medicines for up to a year, without you having to see your GP each time a prescription runs out.

Getting advice on medication

Self-medication for common ailments has become more and more popular, especially with the growing number of over-the-counter medicines that are available. Your pharmacist can advise you on the most effective treatments and make sure that you aren't treating yourself with an over-the-counter product that clashes with a prescription medicine. They can also dispose of out-of-date medicines.

You can ask your pharmacist for a Medication Use Review - this involves you and your pharmacist having a detailed look at your medication. It gives you the chance to get information about your treatment. You keep a copy of the review and a copy is sent to your GP.

Getting health advice

Did you know pharmacists are qualified to give advice about many different problems including minor ailments? Some pharmacies even run clinics for conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and for those who need anticoagulation treatment. Many now provide consultation rooms so they can offer these services in private.

Issues your pharmacist may be able to help with

Your pharmacist may be able to help you with:

  • eye infections, stomach upsets, skin conditions, allergies, aches and pains
  • common drugs, vitamins and first-aid equipment
  • healthy eating and living, including giving up smoking
  • blood pressure and diabetes monitoring and needle exchanges truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies
  • women's health, including treatment for thrush, emergency contraception and pregnancy testing
  • children's problems, including nappy rash, teething, coughs and colds
  • cholestrol-reducing drugs

Issues your pharmacist is not trained to help with

Your pharmacist will not be able to help with:

  • suturing or wound and dressing care
  • muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains
  • lacerations, cuts, severe sprains and strains and fractures
  • infected wounds and foreign bodies
  • head injuries or loss of consciousness
  • suspected broken bones or heavy blood loss
  • persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • overdose, ingestion or poisoning

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