It’s Ask Your Pharmacist Week!

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With the winter season just around the corner Kennedy’s Pharmacy in Rasharkin and Dunloy are promoting Ask Your Pharmacy week (10—16th November 2014), to encourage the local community to consider visiting their community pharmacy first for advice and treatment of common winter ailments.

Your local pharmacist can provide confidential expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints, without having to wait for a GP appointment. Indeed, 18% of GP appointments are for minor ailments and people do not always need to see a GP. Community pharmacy teams can advise patients on minor ailments, pain relief, skin complaints, coughs and colds and over-the-counter medication.

The Government has recently stated that the range of medicines provided without a prescription will continue to expand as part of the drive towards a National Health Service that promotes self-care and greater public choice. However, self-medication may not be appropriate for every patient in view of pre-existing medical conditions or because of interactions with other prescription and non- prescription medications. This reinforces the importance of pharmacists, who have been trained to ask the right questions so they can give appropriate advice.

Marie Hasson, pre-registration pharmacist, says, “The NI Health Survey 2012/13 revealed that 98% of people were satisfied with the treatment they received when using a pharmacy, and I would certainly urge people to consider their community pharmacy first for the treatment of winter complaints”

What can your community pharmacy do for you?

Provide expert self-care advice and over-the-counter treatments for the symptoms of common conditions such as coughs, colds and sore throats; the peak incidence of which is between December and January. As most coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses, Antibiotics will not work. Symptoms can usually be treated using non- prescription medication and should typically resolve in seven to ten days but may last up three weeks.

Provide a free smoking cessation service: smoking can increase the intensity of winter ailments such as coughs and colds. Community pharmacy is the largest smoking cessation provider in Northern Ireland, supporting over 70% of quit attempts. With the use of this service, smokers are up to four times more likely to quit than if they were to try it alone. As providers of this service, help and support is always on hand. Even if you have been unsuccessful at a previous quit attempt the service can be provided every six months.

Help people manage their medicines better by offering a new medicines review service for people living with asthma and diabetes. A Medicines Use Review is a free NHS service. The service provides an opportunity for you to discuss your medicines with a pharmacist, to understand how your medicines should be used and why they have been prescribed, as well as solving any problems you may have with them, for example inhaler technique. The review takes place in the consultation room, no appointment is necessary, with all information being confidential.

Offer diet & lifestyle advice to help people keep fit and well during the winter months. Kennedy’s pharmacy also offer a weight management programme which includes weekly weigh in’s and weight loss help and support. General health checks can be carried out in the pharmacy including blood pressure monitoring.

Provide treatments for a range of conditions under the Community Pharmacy Minor Ailments Service, which is free of charge. This includes treatment of; Athlete’s Foot, Diarrhoea, Head Lice, Sweat Rash, Threadworms, Vaginal Thrush, Cold Sores, Ear Wax, Mouth Ulcers and Oral Thrush.

Provide Flu Vaccination Service. Flu can strike quite suddenly and severely. As flu is caused by a virus and not bacteria, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. The annual flu vaccination is available free on the NHS to people who fall into certain categories i.e. those who are 65 and over, are pregnant, have certain medical conditions, carers of elderly or disabled person and healthcare workers with direct patient contact. The service can also be provided to those who do not fall into these categories at Kennedy’s Pharmacy, upon request.

You don’t need to make an appointment to see a pharmacist and you can talk to them in confidence, about all areas of health. Kennedy’s Pharmacy in Rasharkin and Dunloy have a consultation area where you can talk without being overheard. The pharmacist is a highly qualified healthcare professional.  Every member of the pharmacy team has accredited medicines training and are more than willing to help.