Ask Your Pharmacist Week aims to highlight the range of services available in pharmacies

An annual awareness week promoting the use of community pharmacies takes place next week, and the theme of this year’s campaign is ‘your local pharmacy can help’.

Ask Your Pharmacist Week runs from Monday 1st until Monday 8th November, highlighting the range of services available at pharmacies and the variety of problems which they tackle on a daily basis.

At a time when the NHS is facing unprecedented demand, people are being reminded of this vital line of support that is available conveniently – and often close to home – in their local pharmacy.

Kath Gulson, Chief Executive Officer for Community Pharmacy Lancashire, said: “Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines, as well as managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.

“We are often the first point of contact for many people in need of healthcare support, and, as we have seen during the pandemic, we have a key role to play in maintaining and improving the health of the nation.”

As well as being central to the current COVID-19 and flu vaccination campaigns, the range of clinical services provided by community pharmacies has expanded significantly in recent years – with several more services having been introduced in 2021.

People can visit their local pharmacy for convenient access to medicines, support for healthy living, to receive clinical advice, and prompt treatment for common illnesses like eye infections, earaches and itchy skin.

One of the messages that the NHS is promoting this winter is self-care for common ailments, and keeping a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home. A pharmacist can give advice on taking new medicines or receive guidance on changes to your prescribed medication after leaving hospital.

This Ask Your Pharmacist Week campaign, organised annually by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), is promoting a shift towards a pharmacy-first patient mindset as they work with other professionals, such as doctors and nurses, to offer the best possible care as part of the local healthcare team. It is hoped that the collaborative effort will free up GP appointments for those with serious or chronic health issues.

Kath Gulson added: “Many people only visit pharmacies to collect prescriptions or ask about their medication, but they do not know about all the services we can provide.

“This winter will be the first year that flu will co-circulate alongside COVID-19, so it is especially important to encourage patients who are considering going to their GP with ailments such as a sore throat or a cold to think ‘pharmacy first’ and contact their local pharmacist for treatment and advice.”