BaNES GPs encourage patients to “ask your pharmacist” this winter

Local GPs are reminding residents to turn to their local pharmacy as a first port of call for dealing with minor ailments this winter.

Community pharmacists are qualified to provide expert advice to help people manage their long-term conditions, or for common ailments such as a bad cough, wheezing or sore throat. Asking your pharmacist for advice helps to take pressure off GP surgeries and hospitals which see a big increase in the number of emergency admissions over the colder months.

Pharmacies offer a convenient and accessible healthcare service as it’s possible to walk in and speak to the pharmacist without an appointment.  Many pharmacies have evening and weekend opening hours and the vast majority have a private consultation area for confidential or sensitive discussions.

Pharmacist Ben Holbrook of the Larkhall Pharmacy in Bath takes a client's blood pressure.

Ben Holbrook, a pharmacist at the Larkhall Pharmacy in Bath, said there’s much more on offer at a pharmacy than just a prescription service.

He said: “Pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints and minor ailments. Instead of booking and waiting for a doctor’s appointment, you can visit your local pharmacy any time.

“We can give advice or supply medicines that will help clear up the condition and we will advise you to see your GP if necessary.

“Many people don’t realise we also provide basic screening services such as blood pressure checking and blood sugar testing too.”

Dr Ian Orpen, a local GP and Clinical Chair of the BaNES CCG said:

“GPs quite often see patients who could have got the advice they need from a pharmacist without needing to book an appointment at their surgery. Using your pharmacist frees up GPs to see those patients with more serious illnesses.”