Community Pharmacy Services
Like GPs, community pharmacists or chemists are part of the NHS family. Every day about 1.6 million people visit a pharmacy in England. Many community pharmacies are open long hours when other health care professionals are unavailable and are therefore a useful healthcare resource for us.
The role of the community pharmacist as someone who dispenses prescriptions written by doctors has changed. Community pharmacies now provide a range of services to help you get the most from your prescription and medicines. As well as dispensing medication against a prescription or selling medicines and products over the counter the following services are also available:
Emergency supply of prescription medicines without a prescription
If you urgently need a medicine that you usually get on prescription, but are unable to get a prescription from the doctor, a pharmacist may be able to give you an emergency supply of the medicine until you can get a prescription. The pharmacist:
- will usually need to see you face-to-face
- must agree that you need the medicine immediately
- will usually need evidence that you have been prescribed that medicine before
- must be satisfied with the dose that is most appropriate for you to take.
Even if the pharmacist is unable to give you an emergency supply of a medicine, they will advise you on how to obtain any essential medical care you may need.
Supplying medicine in an emergency is a private service that is not funded by the NHS, meaning that pharmacists can charge patients for the medication even if you do not normally pay for you prescriptions. The charge can vary, depending on the medicine and the pharmacist’s policy.
It has been estimated that £300 million of NHS prescribed medicines are wasted each year. This money could be put to better use within the NHS. You could help to reduce this waste by regularly checking your repeat prescriptions and ensuring medication you are no longer taking is not dispensed for you and is taken off your GP medication record and repeat prescription. If you do not wish to take a medication, discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist before stopping it. Community pharmacies will accept any medicine you no longer need and dispose of it correctly. However, as soon as a medicine is taken out of the pharmacy it cannot be reused and must be thrown away, even if has not been opened. So it could make a real difference if you check your prescription and what you need before taking it away from the pharmacy.
New Medicines Service (NMS)
NMS is a NHS service which is free to patients. Pharmacists are paid by the NHS to review all your medicines with you. It is aimed at patients that have recently been started on new medicines. The scheme is an opportunity for you to discuss any concerns you may have about the new medicine(s) with the pharmacist so that they can provide support, help you understand the best way to take the new medicine and help you manage your condition.
Stop Smoking Service
If you’re thinking of giving up smoking you are more likely to succeed if you get NHS products and support. Pharmacists are well equipped to offer advice and support.
Medicine Use Review
If you take regular medicines, this is a free consultation where a pharmacist will review all the medicines you take and the way you take them, to make sure you are using them as effectively as possible.
These are just a few of the services offered by community pharmacies that could help you get the best out of your medicines and improve your health. If you think you could benefit from any of these services, pop into your regular pharmacy and ask about the service.