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Public urged to speak to pharmacies about minor illnesses to help ease NHS pressures

23 September 2021

People across the Midlands are being urged to speak to their local community pharmacy as one of the NHS’s “most trusted, accessible and underestimated services” to get the medical attention they need for minor illnesses – and to help the NHS to manage current pressures.

The plea is being made to avoid people suffering with minor illnesses – like coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains – from attending accident and emergency departments unnecessarily.

The message is also a reminder of the range of healthcare services available in many towns, cities, villages, shopping centres, supermarkets and a host of other locations across the Midlands, which are being highlighted ahead of World Pharmacists Day on Saturday 25 September.

It is hoped that promoting the range of services available at over 2,200 community pharmacies across the East and West Midlands will help to support NHS staff as they continue their work to manage current demand, clear backlogs and extend the roll-out of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS.

Richard Seal, NHS England and NHS Improvement’s lead pharmacist for the Midlands, said: “Community pharmacists – like all our NHS staff – have been working incredibly hard throughout the pandemic so that the NHS can deal with the pressures it is facing and I’d like to thank pharmacy teams across the Midlands for the role they have played in that.

“The NHS is doing all it can to ensure that patients get the help they need in the right place and at the right time, regardless of whether they access NHS services by calling NHS111, using NHS111 online, by speaking to their local GP practice or by visiting a community pharmacist.

“Community pharmacies are among the NHS’s most trusted, accessible but also underestimated services, as many people simply don’t realise the incredible range of support and advice that pharmacies offer locally – often without the need for an appointment.

“If you’re experiencing a minor health concern, I would urge you to consider speaking to your local pharmacy or visit NHS111 online first, rather than calling your GP or turning-up to an accident and emergency department.”

Find out how your local pharmacy can help you

Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help patients with a range of minor health concerns.

As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses like coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure patients get the help they need.

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends and patients do not need an appointment to get the advice they need. Most pharmacies also have a private consultation room where patients can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard.

Pharmacists can also help with dispensing medicines, repeat prescriptions and, if you want to buy an over-the-counter medicine, they can also help people to choose.

Pharmacists have played a key role in the national response to the pandemic and in supporting the rollout of the country’s vaccination programme.

Over 300 pharmacies across the Midlands are now also poised to play their part in the rollout of vaccine boosters, following the national announcement last week.

An initiative originally piloted in the Midlands is also already seeing patients who call 111 for medical attention for minor health concerns also referred direct to a community pharmacy to help further ease pressures on GPs, hospital accident and emergency departments and other NHS services.

Recent changes to pharmacy services nationwide have also seen some sites begin to offer blood pressure checks to help diagnose hypertension earlier before more serious conditions have the opportunity to develop.

More information about how a pharmacist could help you is available on the NHS website. You can also find your local pharmacist with the easy-to-use postcode search facility.

Page last updated 23 September 2021