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Feeling unwell? Ask your pharmacist and save time

14 January 2014


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People sometimes go to their GP or A&E with common illnesses, aches and pains that they could treat themselves and with advice from their pharmacist. Did you know your pharmacist studied for at least four years and is an expert in the use of medicines and treatment of disease?

Bedfordshire residents can save time by visiting their local pharmacist for many common health ailments. The new Bedfordshire CCG self-care campaign, Ask your Pharmacist, also emphasises that if people visit their pharmacist for many aches and pains, they’re also helping their GP practice and local NHS improve services.

The campaign reminds residents that they can see their local pharmacist anytime: just walk in, without an appointment. By not going to their GP or spending time in A&E, the GP then has more time for patients with more serious health problems and A&E staff have more time and resources to attend to emergency patients.

Arif Esmail from Wootton Pharmacy, said: “Pharmacists can help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as headaches and back pains, coughs and colds, sore throat, upset stomach and skin rashes. We can help choose the best medicines such as pain killers and anti-histamines and help people stock their medicine cabinet at home to treat minor illnesses and ailments.”

These medicines won't be on prescription, but many cost much less over the counter than on prescription. Pharmacists can also advise if someone does need to see a GP.

Dr Bruce Ella, a Bedfordshire CCG clinical director and local GP, said: “A lot of times people visit their GP with health problems that although they realise aren’t serious, they just want to know how to relieve their symptoms quickly. However, often the quickest and easiest way to get relief is to discuss the problem with a pharmacist. If the pharmacist believes the problem to be serious they will then refer you to a GP.”

Andrew Cooke, Head of Medicines Management at Bedfordshire CCG, said: “Around one in every five trips to the GP could be managed just as well by pharmacist, where no appointment is needed. “Save yourself time by picking up over-the-counter medicines from your local pharmacy and help us make more of your local Bedfordshire NHS.”

Notes to editors

  • Photo: Pharmacist Arif Esmail with a customer
  • For more information, contact Scott Swinton 07920 233047, scott.swinton@bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk
  • The ‘Ask your Pharmacy’ self care campaign runs until 2 February. It features ‘No-prescription’ pads – to be used by GPs and practice nurses as a referral form to the pharmacy in place of a prescription, as well as leaflets, posters and advertising on buses.
  • Nationally, 57 million GP consultations are for minor ailments, approximately 18 per cent of all visits to the GP.
  • Visit www.bedfordshireccg.nhs.uk/selfcare or www.nhs.uk/chemist to find more information about your nearest pharmacy including the services they offer and their opening times. Many pharmacies are open late and at weekends.
  • Common medicines available over-the-counter can treat a range of minor ailments such as:

aches and pains
heartburn and indigestion
coughs and colds
hay fever and allergies
sore throat
eczema
upset stomach
athlete's foot
skin rashes
headlice

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