Powys Teaching Health Board is encouraging people to contact their local pharmacy as their first port of call for minor health concerns this winter to help Keep Wales Safe.
Around 350,000 people get help from a community pharmacy every day in Wales who access services such as advice and treatment for minor conditions, free NHS flu vaccinations, emergency contraception and the Stop Smoking service.
Louise Cole is the pharmacist at Well Pharmacy in Brecon which runs one of Wales’ busiest flu vaccination programmes from a pharmacy:
“We have already undertaken around 650 vaccinations and we expect to do more than 800 this year. It helps to relieve pressure from the GP but it also provides patients with more choice of appointment times which means that more vaccinations are achieved locally.”
Patients are also able to access the Common Ailments Service at pharmacies, as an alternative to seeing their GP and without the need for a prescription, as pharmacists are able to diagnose and treat a range of common ailments such as head lice, indigestion, back pain, eye infections and threadworms.
“We deal with all sorts of minor health issues which often don’t require a trip to the doctor or a prescription,” Louise added.
Adapting services in response to Covid-19 means that Louise now offers more phone consultations.
“We still offer over the counter consultations and we have a private consultation area but to minimise contact to help keep Wales safe we do lots of appointments over the phone.
“We do ask that if you need prescriptions, order in advance and allow for seven days between order and collection. This helps us to make sure we have the medications and give us the time to get it ready safely.
Louise also recommends checking the medicine cabinet and the first aid kit regularly so that people can manage minor conditions without even leaving home.
With New Year approaching, it is also hoped that there will be increased uptake of the Stop Smoking service.
Jason Carroll, Medicines Management Pharmacist at Powys Teaching Health Board explains:
“It’s important the public continues to help us, help you this winter by considering whether your local pharmacy can deal with your health concerns. We are working hard to keep services running whilst trying to keep you safe.
“We don’t always need a visit to the GP – we can often access many of the same treatments directly on our high street. Pharmacies are a key service if you are feeling unwell or have minor health concerns.”
“NHS 111 Wales is also available, all day and every day. GPs are busy but if you are worried about persistent symptoms, please don’t let your needs go unchecked. And remember, if you have Covid symptoms no matter how mild, self-isolate and book a test.”
Thousands of people use the NHS 111 Wales symptom checker every day in Wales. Visit NHS 111 Wales - Check Your Symptoms.