With winter well on the way, coughs, colds, aches and pains will be as common as dark nights’ drawing in.
But despite the inevitable cold snap, this time of year also brings good tidings such as preparing for all things festive and the excitement of looking forward to celebrating Christmas with loved ones. With this in mind, NHS England in Dudley and Wolverhampton is reminding patients that a scheme is available to help tackle common ailments, which will help to ensure that illness is nipped in the bud and could also prevent a trip to see the GP over the busy winter period.
This is where ‘Pharmacy First’ comes in. Pharmacy First’ is available to people that are normally exempt from paying prescription charges. It means that those eligible don’t have to pay for certain over-the-counter medicines and instead, patients can see a qualified health professional at a pharmacy rather than make a GP appointment.
By talking to your pharmacist first you can get the advice and medicines you need, to get you on the road to recovery, without having to see a doctor. Plus there’s no need to worry about having private conversations at the counter. Just ask to use the consultation room. All pharmacies operating the scheme have them.
‘Pharmacy First’ is available for children and adults registered with Dudley and Wolverhampton GP practices who need medication for a number of common ailments. All you need to do is give the pharmacist your NHS number or your child’s NHS number to receive advice and, where appropriate, medicines free of charge.
If you do not know your NHS number you can contact your GP practice and ask them to look it up for you. It’s important to note that the pharmacist may ask you to show them a passport, driving licence or some other proof of who you are.
Visiting your pharmacy first will also help to free up valuable GP time, which can be used to deal with more complex or serious health needs. A pharmacist will always advise you if they think you need to see a doctor.
Often what the GP may prescribe, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, doesn’t need a prescription and if you’re not eligible for the scheme this can often be bought cheaper over the counter. So it’s always a good idea to talk to the pharmacist first.
We would also like to remind all patients that pharmacists offer free advice on common ailments, even if you are not eligible to use the scheme.
For more information speak to your local pharmacist and see how ‘Pharmacy First’ can help you.