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Pharmacists play a key role in providing quality healthcare. They are experts in medicines and will use their clinical expertise, together with practical knowledge, to advise you on common problems such as coughs, colds, aches and pains, as well as healthy eating and stopping smoking.


Pharmacists can also help you decide whether you need to see a health professional. They can help you consider the alternatives next time you are thinking of making a doctor’s appointment.


Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals. Before becoming a pharmacist they will have completed a four year university degree and have worked for a year under the supervision of an experienced and qualified pharmacist, usually in a hospital or community pharmacy (such as a supermarket or high street pharmacy).


All pharmacists have to be registered with the regulatory body for pharmacy professionals, the General Pharmaceutical Council. As well as working in hospitals, community pharmacies and the pharmaceutical industry, you can find pharmacists working in a variety of places, such as in prisons, teaching and research facilities, and the military.


Pharmacies can provide a range of over the counter products for self-care, coughs and colds, other minor illnesses, sun lotions, antihistamines etc.


Local pharmacies also provide a number of specific services for minor illnesses e.g. for the management of conjunctivitis, impetigo, Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), nappy rash and emergency contraception. They can also sit down with patients and go through their medication and look at problems with side effects. If there are things that need to be changed at the surgery end, the pharmacy will send us a notification and we will look at it and make those changes.


Patients’ first port of call for minor illnesses should always be the community pharmacy. You may be able to get a whole range of things over the counter to treat your problem and you don’t have to wait for an appointment or a call back. If the pharmacy can’t deal with your problem they will refer you to a doctor.


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