Medical Specialists® Pharmacy embrace Ask Your Pharmacist Week 2015
4th November 2015
ask your pharmacist weekIn less than 1 week’s time will see the start of Ask Your Pharmacist (AYP) Week 2015, running from 9-15 November 2015. During past AYP weeks, there have been exhibitions, social media campaigns, opinion surveys by students, poster campaigns etc. to increase patient awareness regarding pharmacy as a healthcare resource. The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has published numerous videos, such as one that discusses the services patients can expect from their local pharmacy, in addition to information about pharmacy services which are useful for men, as previous AYP weeks have aimed to boost awareness for men’s health. For AYP 2015, the primary aims will be to raise public awareness about the services provided at local pharmacies in the framework of the theme “Ask Your Pharmacist about Medicines and More”, such as hammering home the message that a pharmacy isn’t merely just a place to go to collect prescribed medication. The pharmacy can be so much more! For example, some might be unaware that pharmacies can even provide services to help people stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, manage alcohol consumption and offer screening and health checks, such as sexually transmitted infection and blood pressure testing. The great news is that patients can pop in without the need for an appointment and many of these services are completely free. Also, with winter fast approaching, it is also worth remembering that many local pharmacies provide flu jabs – free of charge on the NHS for those in the ‘at risk’ groups. There are an estimated 13,000 community pharmacies within the UK and 96% of people can access a pharmacy in 20 minutes, either by foot or via public transport. One of the aims of AYP week is that patients understand that pharmacists are not just there for handing out prescriptions and painkillers. This is crucial now more than ever with the government cutting funding for many GP surgeries, meaning it is increasingly difficult to get a doctor’s appointment, and pharmacists are becoming more important. Approximately 50 million GP visits each year are for non-life threatening problems such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete's foot. However, if people popped into their local pharmacy instead, they could save both themselves and their GP time and trouble. Instead of attempting to book, and then waiting, for a GP appointment, why not go to see your local pharmacist at any time. Moreover, we at Medical Specialists® Pharmacy know that it can be sometimes near-impossible nowadays to get in at the doctors, and many patients find it difficult going to the doctor about more ‘embarrassing’ conditions, such as requesting Viagra for erectile dysfunction, or antibiotics for sexually transmitted infections, which is why 1,000s of new patients are coming to Medical Specialists® each and every month. Please note that for every prescription medication mentioned which are provided by Medical Specialists®, all patients must first undergo an online consultation with one of the GMC-registered doctors at Medical Specialists®, or send in a private prescription by post, obtained by the patient's own doctor. On top of this, Medical Specialists® already have an ‘Ask Our Doctor / Pharmacist’ facility on the Medical Specialists® website, negating the need to physically attend a pharmacy – some people might struggle to get to a pharmacy during the week due to work commitments. Patients can simply fill in their details – including email address – and whatever the enquiry may be. It doesn’t matter how trivial it is, whether it is a question regarding the safety and efficacy of taking 2 different medications together, possible side effects of a new treatment, or if you would like Medical Specialists® to begin to stock a particular product or type of medication…simply fill in the query and one of the Medical Specialists® doctors or pharmacists will use their experience and knowledge to provide a detailed, helpful response by email. In addition, every year the NHS spends around £12 billion on medicines, but between 30 and 50 per cent of patients aren’t taking them as prescribed. Don’t forget, all pharmacists are trained in medicine, so they can suggest an alternative if a patient is having problems with a drug, or offer advice to that patient, especially if he or she is taking multiple medications. NHS Choices offer comprehensive advice on when it is appropriate to speak to a pharmacist, or when it would be better to see a GP or even go straight to accident and emergency at hospital. Their website states: Your pharmacist may be able to help with:
  •     Skin conditions, such as mild acne and mild eczema.
  •     Coughs and colds, including nasal congestion and sore throat.
  •     Minor cuts and bruises.
  •     Constipation and haemorrhoids (piles).
  •     Hay fever and allergies.
  •     Aches and pains, such as headaches, earache and back pain.
  •     Indigestion, diarrhoea and threadworms.
  •     Period pain and thrush.
  •     Warts and verrucas, mouth ulcers and cold sores.
  •     Athlete’s foot.
  •     Nappy rash and teething.
Some pharmacies also provide truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies. Go to your GP or a walk-in centre for:
  •     Wound and dressing care.
  •     Muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains.
  •     Minor lacerations and cuts.
  •     Infected wounds.
Go to accident and emergency (A&E) for:
  •     Head injuries or loss of consciousness.
  •     Suturing (stitches).
  •     Foreign bodies.
  •     Suspected broken bones or heavy blood loss.
  •     Persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing.
  •     Overdose or poisoning.
If an injury or illness is not serious, patients can seek help from a minor injuries unit (MIU), rather than going to an A&E department, plus there is also the NHS Choices online symptom checker, NHS 111 or an NHS walk-in or urgent care centres. Activities planned during Ask Your Pharmacist Week include health checks in shopping centres across the UK, community talks, pharmacy window displays and pharmacy visits by local dignitaries.