North East Essex out-of-hours
North East Essex out-of-hours

How a pharmacist can help you to good health

September 26 2017

Pharmacists and their pharmacy support teams are essential healthcare professionals. They have wide and varied roles within all sectors of healthcare.

Care UK employs dozens of pharmacists in settings ranging from prisons to hospitals. In this article two members of Care UK’s pharmacy team from Barlborough NHS Treatment Centre, Lyndsey Longden and Stanley Steadman, explain how pharmacists help patients to get the most out of their medicines.

Pharmacists are specialists in medication; they study how it works, how the body processes medicines and the effects on the body along with interactions to other medications, food or alcohol.

We are there to help and advise patients and other professionals on appropriate medication doses, the amount of time a medication can or should be taken and how it affects treatments. We can also help optimise the way that medications are prescribed for patients, help them to continue taking their drugs, enhance patient care and promote general wellness.

Pharmacists often specialise in certain diseases and can become independent prescribers, which means that they’re able to prescribe medication for a patient. Pharmacists in secondary care play a major role in the drug treatment for individual patients and can also help educate other colleagues on the effective use and prescribing of medication. Pharmacists are great people to ask any questions you might have about medication – both over the counter ones like cold remedies and those prescribed by other clinicians.

For example, people are living longer and we are all more aware of signs and symptoms of illness than 20 years ago. This has led to an increase in medication being prescribed. Sometimes people are prescribed several different medications for the same complaint at different times and this can get confusing. People sometimes believe they should stop taking their existing medication in place of the new medication that has been added to their regime. But this might not be the case so always check with your pharmacist if you have any doubts.

Pharmacists are accessible; from the local chemist to the hospital pharmacy and GP practice you’ll find a pharmacist ready to help. One of the key areas where pharmacists can advise patients is when someone is prescribed a new or additional medication. People can find out:

  • How to take the new medication; some need to be taken with a full glass of water or with or after food. Other drugs may need to be taken in between meals.
  • When to take your drug; this could be the time of day to take the medication or the symptoms you might need to experience before taking the medication – e.g. for gout or migraines.
  • Things to avoid; for example avoiding alcohol when taking certain medications.
  • Lifestyle advice; for example a patient diagnosed with high cholesterol or high blood pressure might want to know more about their medication.
  • Special instructions; for example not to drive or operate machinery whilst taking certain medications.

Your local community pharmacist can also help with advice on many health issues that you might think you need to see a doctor about, from head lice to verrucas.

Visit the NHS Choices website to find out more.

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