Pharmacists encourage patients to ask for advice

Community pharmacists across Derby and Derbyshire have launched a campaign encouraging patients to ask them about medical concerns, as they can provide expert care close to home without an appointment. 

Around 205 pharmacies across the city and county can offer advice about minor illnesses and common conditions, as well as provide immunisations and blood pressure checks. They can even provide privacy to have these discussions in a consulting room. 

People can also visit pharmacies to get NHS treatment for common conditions such as minor skin infections and urine infections. They can also get help with their health through NHS blood pressure checks and health advice. GP practices are also now referring patients to pharmacies to ensure GP appointments are kept for more serious conditions. 

Aftab Rehman, who is lead pharmacist at Pear Tree Pharmacy in the Derby suburb of Normanton, says many patients are surprised at the speed with which they can get advice without waiting for an appointment: “I often talk to people who need advice about something but assume they need to talk to a GP. When we explain that we can help right there and then, they’re delighted.” 

“My colleagues in GP practices are working incredibly hard to meet the high patient demand for appointments, and they need to be available to patients with the most urgent problems. Patients with less urgent needs can often get the care and advice they need from community pharmacists more quickly, while also ensuring doctors’ time is focused on the more urgent cases.” 

Lindsey Fairbrother, from Good Life Pharmacy in Hatton, says people appreciate the convenience of seeing a pharmacist: “I often meet patients who have just popped in for something and will ask advice, and they’re often surprised that we can provide the advice right there and then. 

“It’s convenient to get something sorted while they do their shopping or just coming in without an appointment. A lot of people don’t realise they can do that, and I know it makes a difference.” 

Baldev Bange, from Amber Pharmacy in Horsely Woodhouse, says the blood pressure service is particularly important for local people, and he hopes more people will take advantage of it. 

“We know it can be challenging getting a GP appointment because demand is so high, but something like the blood pressure check service is a great example of how people can get important care without waiting for an appointment. 

“Already we have patients who are over and come in to get the free blood pressure check, and that can help reassure them or provide an important pointer that they need some extra advice. That’s why we’re here, and that’s why we’re a key part of the bigger health and care system: we can provide quick, professional advice and care without an appointment.”

Pharmacy Access