Pharmacy teams are an essential part of our health care system, providing vital and convenient health care and advice in the heart of the community.
But many people may be unaware of the help and support that is available from their local community pharmacy team.
“I think the first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of pharmacy services is collecting their prescribed medication” says Amanda Smith, Manager of Heath Pharmacy in Halifax, West Yorkshire.
Amanda Smith (left), manager at Manager of Heath Pharmacy in Halifax, West Yorkshire, with dispensing assistant Denise Briscoe.
“We offer more than that. Pharmacy teams provide health advice quickly and can suggest over the counter treatments that can help. And our trained experts can tell you if you need to see a GP, nurse, optician, or other healthcare professional.
“Pharmacists are qualified clinical professionals who can help with lots of non-urgent health conditions and minor illnesses such as coughs, colds, sore throats, itchy eye, earache and tummy trouble. It’s always worth speaking to your pharmacy team as soon as you notice an issue before it could get worse.
“Our pharmacy, like many others, has a private consultation room where we can discuss issues with people away from the hustle and bustle of the shop floor. We work closely with GP practices and they often refer patients to our pharmacist for an NHS consultation. We can access a patients’ National Care Record, which helps keep people safe and well.
“I’ve been part of the pharmacy team here for 28 years. We have pharmacists, accredited checking technicians, dispensing assistants, medicine counter assistants and delivery drivers. We provide a wide range of health and care advice and services, and it’s fair to say that no two days are the same.”
As well as dispensing and delivering prescription medication, equipment and general health advice and treatments, community pharmacies can also support your health and wellbeing in the long-term.
“We aren’t here just when you’re already feeling under the weather; we can help you to stay healthy too” Amanda continues. “Community pharmacies like ours provide weight loss support, we can help you to stop smoking, and provide free blood pressure checks with advice and tips on lifestyle changes that can help to keep your blood pressure down if needed.”
“We also protect vulnerable people in our community by delivering seasonal Covid-19 and flu vaccinations. Eligible people can be immunised on-site by a trained vaccinator just by walking into the pharmacy, or by booking online at www.nhs.uk.”
Community pharmacies play an important role in their local areas and the nature of the services they offer mean they often become a significant part of peoples’ lives.
Denise Briscoe, dispensing assistant at Heath Pharmacy said. “We see people with long term conditions regularly when they collect their prescription medication, we get to know them and their family over the years. And because of our connection in the local community, we can often tell them about things that would benefit them that perhaps they’d not considered before. It’s a really nice feeling to be able to help people stay well. I like to think people trust us partly because of our place at the heart of the community, as well as our medical knowledge and skills.
“I think we all feel we play a big part in the local community. Particularly when we hold seasonal vaccination clinics as we get so busy – it almost feels like a community centre because we see so many people! But however busy we get, we always try to make sure we’re approachable and have time to speak to people about their issues confidentially, we can help them get the treatment they need.”
“Being in the heart of our community, we know that times are hard for lots of people at the moment, between the pandemic and the current cost of living crisis,” Amanda continues. “Because of that, I’d like people to remember that community pharmacies aren’t just there for prescriptions and over the counter treatments.
“We are health care professionals who can offer confidential advice and support. If you need medical help or treatment, please ask your pharmacy team and we’ll help however we can.”
There are 46 community pharmacies in Calderdale, most of which are open on evenings and weekends.
Find details of a community pharmacy near you at www.nhs.uk/service-search/pharmacy/find-a-pharmacy