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​Don't forget your p​harmacy this winter

When you feel unwell this winter the first place you might think to contact is your GP practice. But have you thought about asking your local pharmacist for advice first?

During Ask Your Pharmacist week (7-14 November), pharmacists across Merton will be reminding residents of the enormous range of services available in local pharmacies – beyond just medicines - that might otherwise remain overlooked.

Sedina Agama, Chief Pharmacist at NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “Pharmacists are unique qualified healthcare professionals who are experts in medicines and are available without an appointment and can provide expert treatment options and advice.

“While GPs are often the first point of contact for many, patients are often surprised just how much help and support with medicines their local community pharmacist and their team can offer.”

Often, people make unnecessary trips to the GP or even A&E, when the neighbourhood pharmacy could help instead.

Raj Patel, a local pharmacist and Chair of Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth Local Pharmaceutical Committee said: “Your pharmacist can offer you personalised medicines advice, help to quit smoking and maintain good sexual health, treatment for minor ailments and advice on preventing disease.

“Most pharmacies now have consultation rooms where you can discuss your health concerns privately with a pharmacist, and they will refer you to another health care professional or service whenever necessary.” 

Ask Your Pharmacist week, which is organised by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), supports Merton CCG’s commitment to relieve pressure on other NHS primary health services this winter.

Sharing many key features of the on-going NHS Stay Well This Winter campaign, Ask Your Pharmacist Week is about encouraging people to be more mindful of the choices available when seeking healthcare, particularly for minor ailments such as cold and flu.

Merton people can make sure they always know where the nearest open pharmacy is by downloading Health Help Now, the free app and website helping Merton residents find health services and advice when they don’t know what to do or who to contact. Search ‘Health Help Now’ in your Apple or Android app store or visit http://www.merton.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk/