Know your Care at the Chemist

Monday, October 29, 2018

In preparation for winter and the illnesses the cold weather can bring, Healthwatch Sefton and the two NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the borough are working in partnership to raise awareness of where local residents can get free, fast and expert advice from their local pharmacist.

All pharmacists offer expert advice on minor illnesses and ailments and should be your first port of call for conditions like coughs, colds, aches and pains, as well as advising on healthy eating and stopping smoking.

They can recommend the best over-the-counter remedy to start treating your symptoms as soon as possible, without the need for an appointment. They can also signpost you to which local service can help you if they can’t.

In addition to the free advice already available from high street pharmacies, some also offer the Care at the Chemist scheme, which is available to all patients registered with a Sefton GP. It is intended to improve access for patients suffering from minor ailments to the medicines they need to treat the illness without the need to see your GP.

If you don’t pay for your prescriptions then you can ask to join the Care at the Chemist scheme to get free medicines for a range of everyday health ailments.

The range of common, everyday illnesses and ailments included in the scheme comprises: athlete’s foot, cold sores, conjunctivitis, constipation, cystitis, diarrhoea, fever, haemorrhoids (piles), heartburn and indigestion, infant colic, nasal congestion, sore throat, sprains and strains, toothache, thrush, and warts.

However, during engagement work with pharmacies, locality representatives from Healthwatch Sefton - the health and care consumer champion - highlighted the difficulty people may have in knowing which pharmacy was part of the scheme.

Maurice Byrne, Healthwatch Sefton Locality Representative for Maghull, explained: “It is important for people to bear in mind the options available to them when it comes to seeking medical advice or information. But, if you don’t know which pharmacy is part of the Care at the Chemist scheme, then it can be difficult to make that choice.”

Susanne Lynch, head of medicines management at the NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “All pharmacists are highly trained experts who can give advice on common illnesses and ailments, advising on the best over-the-counter medicine to treat your need whether they offer Care at the Chemist or not.

“You also don’t need an appointment to see your pharmacist. They have private consultation rooms so you can talk to them in confidence.

“If they are unable to treat your symptoms or have any concerns they will sign post you to the correct service.

“You can find out more about Care at the Chemist, including a full list of participating pharmacies from both CCG websites.”

To read more about the Care at the Chemist scheme, including a list of participating pharmacies in south Sefton please visit our 'Care at the Chemist' page.

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