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Why not ask your pharmacist?

Health experts in Sefton are reminding residents to ask their pharmacist about the range of services available in local chemists during a week long campaign, running from 5 to 11 November, and beyond.

NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS South Sefton CCG are supporting ‘Ask Your Pharmacist’ week, which highlights the range of services and support that is available to people from their local chemist with a focus this year on medicines safety.

Ask Your Pharmacist week complements ‘Stay Well this Winter’, which encourages people to look after themselves during the colder months, as part of the wider national campaign, ‘Help us Help You’. The campaign reminds people to see a pharmacist if they need advice on minor illnesses and / or medication; and for older people it is a reminder to keep warm during the winter months by putting on an extra layer or turning up their heat.

Often, people make unnecessary trips to the GP or even A&E, when their neighbourhood chemist could help instead. In recent years, pharmacists have expanded their role, and now provide a wide range of clinical and public health services, within easy reach of the people who need them most.

Graeme Batten, pharmacist and chairman of the Local Pharmaceutical Committee (LPC) in Sefton, said: “We offer expert advice and support on a range of topics without an appointment; we can offer advice on the correct and safe use of medicines and devices as well as healthy living advice such as looking after yourself in the winter months. Many pharmacies also offer blood pressure checks and other services such as stopping smoking and providing emergency hormonal contraception.

“We specifically help patients manage their medicines with a medicine use review (MUR) consultation and support with new medicines in a private consultation room. This gives us the opportunity to discuss how to use medicines safely and the side effects and benefits of your medicines with you.

“My advice in Ask Your Pharmacy week and all year round would be to pop in to your local chemist and have a chat about how they can help you.”

Another way to make the most of your local chemist is by signing up to NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG’s Care at the Chemist scheme, which is aimed at more vulnerable residents who do not normally pay for their prescriptions. Care at the Chemist is available at a number of pharmacies across the borough and provides expert advice and medications for a wide range of conditions, without the need for a doctor’s appointment.

Susanne Lynch, head of medicines management at the CCGs, said: “If you are one of our more vulnerable residents and you do not normally pay for your prescription, then Care at the Chemist is a great way for you to be seen by a health professional, who can advise on treatment for a number of ailments and offer medication where appropriate.”

For a list of pharmacies signed up to the Care at the Chemist scheme and how to register, visit the NHS South Sefton CCG website at southseftonccg.nhs.uk and NHS Southport and Formby CCG website at southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk.