Get it sorted and visit your local pharmacy: Dr David Crichton

Pharmacists have a wealth of knowledge in medicines and can help you with minor health concerns. In today’s blog, I’d like to explain how often, people use GP appointments for things which can be effectively dealt with at a local pharmacy with no need for an appointment.

As qualified healthcare professionals, pharmacists can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

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 may sign-post you on to see a GP, nurse or another healthcare professional.

All pharmacists train for 5 years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.

Across Doncaster we have lots of good local pharmacies, with many open until late and at weekends. The main benefit being that you do not need an appointment to speak to someone and can offer over the counter medicine to help with your issue straight away.

Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss your issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard.

As we move out of summer into autumn, colds and tummy bugs often increase in circulation and it’s important that you recognise when you’re feeling unwell early enough to be able to get help for minor ailments from a pharmacy. As a GP I find that some people forget that they can get health advice and treatment from pharmacies.

Everyone can go to any pharmacist for advice or to buy a medicine for a minor illness or ailment, however in Doncaster, we also have several pharmacies who offer the locally arranged Minor Ailments Scheme. The scheme is an NHS service for those who do not pay prescription charges, including children under 16. After you speak to the pharmacist, they may be able to give you a prescription medicines free of charge or without you needing an appointment with your doctor.

There are many pharmacies in Doncaster where you can use the minor ailment scheme, you do not need an appointment and you can attend at a time which suits you.

To be eligible to use the scheme you must be registered with a Doncaster GP and go to a local pharmacy that is in the scheme. You must also be exempt from prescription charges. You will need to show you are eligible to take part in the scheme.

If you are not eligible to access medicines through this scheme, you can still ask for free advice and guidance from your pharmacist who may be able to suggest over the counter treatments to help with your problem.

Just like when visiting your doctor, all information you give to give to a pharmacist is confidential and any medication you are given is only to be used by yourself and taken as directed.

Pharmacists can also answer questions on general prescription and over-the-counter medicines advice, disposing of out-of-date items and accessing repeat prescription services.

Repeat prescriptions can be issued in two different ways. The first way is you order the prescription to be approved by a GP each time you need a refill. The second way is for you to order the prescription once and a GP approves a series of refills for you. They are sent to the pharmacy automatically, so you do not need to order them each time. This is called electronic repeat dispensing. The GP surgery or pharmacy will let you know when you need to re-order your prescription.

Whichever way you choose to order your repeat prescriptions, you can choose a specific pharmacy (nominated pharmacy) to collect your prescriptions from each time – call or contact the pharmacy online a few days before you run out of medicine to check your prescription is ready to collect.

As part of the repeat prescription service, the pharmacist will ask if you’re having any problems or side effects with your medicines and, where appropriate, they can discuss this with you and your GP.

Your local pharmacy should the first place you go to when you feel unwell with a minor health ailment with self-care being the first part of your healthcare routine.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, please do not go to a pharmacy if:

  • you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you live with someone who has symptoms

If you are isolating due to COVID-19, you may be able to get your medicines or prescriptions delivered or ask someone to collect them. NHS Volunteer Responders can help with collecting medicines and prescriptions. Call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm, every day) to arrange help from a volunteer.

Please take a moment over the coming weeks to ensure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home so you take care of yourself as we head into the cooler months.

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