How can your pharmacy help you?

Did you know that pharmacies provide advice and information on minor illnesses and ailments? Find out how they can help you.
Young male pharmacist giving prescription medications to senior female customer in a pharmacy with female pharmacist in the background

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals who can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for various minor illnesses. They also work with other healthcare professionals to get you the best possible care in a way that works for you and the NHS. The pharmacist will let you know if you need to visit a doctor or other healthcare service, such as a hospital.

What services do pharmacies provide?

Pharmacists train for five years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice. They can answer your questions on prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Pharmacies provide the following services:

  • dispensing of NHS prescriptions
  • access to the repeat prescription service 
  • an emergency supply of medicine, subject to the decision of the pharmacist 
  • non-prescription medicines like paracetamol
  • disposal of unwanted or out-of-date medicines

Some pharmacies will deliver your prescription medicines to you, but you may need to pay for this service. You can use the Find a pharmacy service and check the treatments and services page of the pharmacy profile to see if they offer this service.

Did you know...

The governments new Pharmacy First Scheme means your local Pharmacy can provide you with even more support for your health and wellbeing without needing to see your GP? 

Find out what this means for you

Can a pharmacist prescribe medication?

Pharmacists can offer advice and over-the-counter medication to help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries, including:

  • common ailments such as coughs, colds and the flu
  • aches, pains and skin rashes

Your pharmacist can help manage repeat prescriptions and help with any questions you might have about the medication the doctor has prescribed you.

You can also only buy certain products classified as 'pharmacy medicines' from a pharmacist. These medicines, called 'pharmacy-only medicines', aren't usually displayed on open shelves. 

Is a chat with my pharmacist confidential?

Many pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard. Ask them if you would like to talk in private.

Find out more about what pharmacists can do

Find your nearest pharmacist

Not sure where your nearest pharmacist is? Enter your postcode to find a pharmacy near you, including high-street retailers, supermarkets and independent pharmacies.

Go to NHS website

Do I need to see the doctor every time I need a prescription?

Not necessarily. A pharmacist can help manage repeat prescriptions for you. If you take a medication regularly and your condition is stable, your GP can offer a long-term repeat prescription.

Can pharmacists provide advice about the medication I'm taking for a long-term condition? 

You can ask your pharmacist for advice about any of your medicines.

If you're prescribed a medication to treat a long-term condition for the first time, you can get extra help and advice from your pharmacist. This scheme is called the New Medicine Service and applies to conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, heart failure and stroke.

People often have problems when they start a new medicine. The pharmacist will support you to use your medicine safely and to the best effect.

Can they give me general advice for my health and wellbeing?

You can ask a pharmacist (instead of your GP) about how best to keep you and your family well. They've all sorts of advice, from how to eat healthily, quit smoking, lose weight, and what type of exercise you could do.

What other services do pharmacists offer?

Your local pharmacist might also offer other NHS services, such as:

  • smoking cessation
  • blood pressure tests
  • weight management
  • flu and covid vaccines.

To find out what your community pharmacist provides, ask them.

Some pharmacists are trained to spot people at risk of hypertension. They will offer you a blood pressure test if they think you are at risk. They'll share results with your GP so you can discuss any treatment you might need. If you have very high blood pressure, you'll be urgently referred to your GP within 24 hours.

I've just been discharged from the hospital. How can pharmacists help me?

If you were prescribed new medication while in the hospital, they can refer you to a pharmacy for extra help and guidance.

The pharmacy will check any changes in the quantity, dosage or frequency of your medication and compare and review any new medicine with anything you were prescribed before you were in the hospital.

The pharmacist will have a confidential chat with you to discuss the medication and any changes and ensure you know how to take the medicine.

Other services that can help you find the right treatment

More information

For more information, or for a large print or easy read guide please visit the NHS website

You can also watch this British Sign Language (BSL) video guide to find out how a pharmacist can help.

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