Patients should make more use of pharmacists to relieve strain on GPs say health chiefs

People in Ashfield have been urged to talk to a pharmacist if they need help and advice.

This week is Ask Your Pharmacist Week, to raise awareness of the services on offer in pharmacies to help people stay well during the winter months.

Many pharmacies offer seven-day opening and late hours, meaning they are the best place for busy people to get help and advice to avoid a trip to the GP and help them deal with serious illness.

David Ainsworth, of NHS Mansfield and Ashfield Clinical Commissioning Group, said people often did not realise the range of additional services available, as pharmacists do much more than dispensing prescriptions.

They offer free expert advice on a range of health issues, support for self-care and medicines to treat common complaints such as coughs and colds and flu, sore throats, earache, backache, stomach upsets and cuts and grazes.

He said: “Pharmacists are highly qualified healthcare professionals who have undertaken a minimum of five years education and training for this specialist role.

“They have expert knowledge on prescription and over the counter medicines as well as skills and expertise to help with a range of health issues.”

At this time of the year colds, coughs and illnesses are common, so patients can get advice, treatment and medicines quickly at their local pharmacy without having to wait for a GP appointment.

Mr Ainsworth said: “Patients who take regular prescription medicines can also ask their pharmacist for a medicines use review.

“This free NHS service helps to give patients a better understanding of the medicines they are taking, discuss any problems they are having with their medication and ensure they are taking their medicines correctly”.