Expert / 16 April, 2024 / Christina Walter

Empowering Parenthood: How Community Pharmacists Offer Support And Guidance

Did you know that since 31st January 2024, your local community pharmacist can treat minor health conditions without you needing to see a GP first? Going to your local pharmacy is a straightforward way to get clinical advice for minor health concerns for both you and your children.

Pharmacies are well placed to be the first point of call for minor health issues, with 80% of people living within 20 minutes of a community pharmacy. So, visiting a pharmacy first can be an easier, more convenient way to get support. There’s no need to make an appointment and you can even be seen in a private consultation room.

As part of new changes to how we access care, community pharmacists can now supply medicines for seven common conditions, if appropriate, without a GP appointment or prescription. Many of these conditions can affect children, such as:

Impetigo

Impetigo is a common skin infection in young children that’s contagious but not usually serious.

It starts with red sores or blisters, but the redness may be harder to see in brown and black skin. The sores or blisters quickly burst and leave crusty, golden-brown patches.

Pharmacists can now provide medicine for this condition, if needed, for children aged 1 and above. Impetigo often gets better within 7-10 days, but if it’s recurring you can always visit your GP for further advice.

Infected insect bites

Insect bites are very common as we move towards warmer days and lighter evenings, and we spend more time outdoors.

Insect bites or stings are not usually serious and get better in a few days, but sometimes they can become infected or cause a serious allergic reaction. Your local pharmacist can advise on how to treat infected insect bites and if needed, provide medication to children who are aged 1 and older.

Earache

Ear infections are very common, particularly in children and sometimes teenagers. You don’t always need to see a GP for an ear infection as they tend to get better on their own within 3 days.

However, if it doesn’t clear within a few days, you can speak to a pharmacist if you think you have an ear infection. If your child is between 1 and 17 years old, community pharmacists can recommend eardrops that can help stop bacteria or fungus spreading and can also provide other treatments if you need them, without needing to see a GP.

Sore throat

Sore throats are very common and they’re usually nothing to worry about and they normally get better by themselves within a week.

You can ask a pharmacist about ways of relieving the pain and discomfort of a sore throat. If you need them, a pharmacist can provide medications for children from the ages of 5 and above, without seeing a GP first.

Remember, if your child has any of these conditions, think pharmacy first and visit your local pharmacist instead of your GP.

The full list of the seven new conditions that community pharmacists can now treat include:

  • Impetigo (1 year and over)
  • Infected insect bites (1 year and over)
  • Earache (for those aged between 1 and 17)
  • Sore throat (5 years and over)
  • Sinusitis (12 years and over)
  • Shingles (18 years and over)
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) for women aged 16-64 years.

More than 10,200 pharmacies across the country are now offering these new services, which also include advice on oral contraception and free blood pressure checks – all without needing to visit a GP. These new services aim to save up to 10 million GP appointments each year.

If you visit your pharmacy for a minor health concern, rest assured that you are in good hands. Pharmacists have the right clinical expertise to make sure you get the help you need. They train for five years in the use of medicines before qualifying and are also trained in clinically assessing and treating minor illnesses as well as giving health and wellbeing advice to help people stay well.

A pharmacist can also signpost you to your general practice team, A&E or other relevant local service if you need additional support.

So, don’t wait for minor health concerns to get worse – think pharmacy first and get seen by your local community pharmacy team.

Article by Abraham Khodadi the Pharmacist who is supporting NHS England’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign to raise awareness of the expanded community pharmacy services. For more information visit Nhs.uk/nhs-services/pharmacies/how-pharmacies-can-help/.

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