HAVE you ever felt under the weather but put off at the thought of queuing to see your GP?
Has there been a time when you’ve been sick, but not sick enough to make a doctor’s appointment or rush to A&E?
If so, you may have visited your local pharmacy instead. Today’s pharmacies offer a range of healthcare services that extend far beyond filling prescriptions.
“The pharmacist’s role has changed significantly over the years,” says Jim Curran, Director of Communications and Strategy at the Irish Pharmacy Union.
“Many pharmacies provide a significant number of services to patients.”
A Behaviour and Attitudes survey carried out in April found half of all adults had visited a pharmacy during the previous week.
“The figure is at an all-time high,” says Jim.
Here are six reasons why so many are making more use of their local pharmacy.
1. Pharmacists can answer questions about your medicine:
Any time you forget to ask your doctor a vital question or feel unsure about your prescription, your pharmacist is on hand to help. “They are trained experts in the use of medicines and invariably should be in a position to answer most questions in relation to medication,” says Jim Curran.
2. Pharmacists can advise on medical issues:
“They can advise on how to treat minor ailments such as coughs, colds, stomach upsets and hay fever,” says Jim Curran. “They can advise on how to manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular disease. And they can help with lifestyle concerns including weight management.”
3. They offer specialised services:
You can stay up-to-date with vital health checks at your local pharmacy. Many provide services such as the ’flu vaccination, an emergency hormonal contraceptive service, smoking cessation services, blood pressure monitoring, cholesterol measurement, diabetes management and more.
4. Pharmacies are accessible:
Most open six days a week and some open every day. There is no need for an appointment and no cost associated with a visit. This makes them the most accessible part of the Irish healthcare system.
5. Their service is private and confidential:
If the thought of standing at the counter discussing your hernia while others wait in line fills you with horror, don’t worry.
Many of today’s pharmacies have a quiet room where you can discuss your health in total confidentiality. “This room functions as a consultation area where patients can talk to their pharmacist privately and discreetly,” says Curran.
6. They can point you in the right direction:
If you’re unsure whether your health issue requires a visit to your GP, simply ask your pharmacist.
“Pharmacists are qualified to deal with ailments including colds and flus, allergic rhinitis, cold sores, constipation, dermatitis, mild eczema, headaches, heartburn, migraine, nausea, vomiting and pain, among other conditions,” says Jim.
“In the event that the patient requires additional treatment, a pharmacist will always refer them to another healthcare professional, including GPs.”
It’s no wonder so many of us are making so much use of our local pharmacy.
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