by Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy, Health and Social Care Board.
When it comes to a one stop shop of health assessment services, your local or high street pharmacy probably has it covered. Many people go to the pharmacy to buy their health and beauty essentials and often forget that it offers one to one advice from healthcare professionals, often without the need to book an appointment. If you have a minor ailment such as a cough or cold, or if you require a private consultation about a recent health issue, your pharmacist can help.
Pharmacies can offer services such as smoking cessation and advice for managing long term health conditions such as diabetes and asthma. Some pharmacists can also provide health checks for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose testing and vaccines. Each pharmacy displays a leaflet providing details of the list of services they provide.
Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals on medicines who also have a vast knowledge of symptoms. They can advise what medication to take, the dosage required, any side effects and provide advice on how best to use it.
For minor ailments, I would recommend that anyone who is starting to feel unwell should speak to their pharmacist first. Your pharmacist can provide advice as to how best manage symptoms and also provide advice about what medications may be beneficial. The over-the-counter products that pharmacists recommend can help people feel better, provide some relief and can reduce the need for further healthcare assistance from their GP.
Pharmacies support carers too; if you have any concerns or questions about medications or repeat prescription changes, you can speak to your pharmacist in complete confidence to get advice and support on the most effective treatments for those that you care for.
The community pharmacy is your healthcare team on the High Street. Contact your local pharmacy for details of services that they offer to help you stay well this winter.
The Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Board are working together to urge people to ‘Stay Well This Winter’ and advise everyone to look after themselves and take the appropriate actions that will help them stay well.
Find out about the different health service options available in Northern Ireland from self-care, community pharmacists, minor injury units and more www.nidirect.gov.uk/stay-well