People across the Black Country and West Birmingham are being encouraged to talk to their pharmacist if they need help managing minor health conditions this winter.

This week is Ask Your Pharmacist Week (1-8 November), an annual initiative organised by the National Pharmacy Association, which aims to raise awareness of the full range of services on offer in pharmacies.

This year’s theme is ‘your local community can help’. At a time when the NHS is facing unprecedented demand, people are being reminded of this vital line of support that is available in their local pharmacy.

Pharmacists are highly trained experts in medicines, offering advice on the best medication or treatments for a wide range of common winter health problems such as coughs, colds, stomach aches, ear aches, sickness and diarrhoea, rashes, allergies, aches and pains.

They work closely with NHS doctors and nurses to provide local people with a range of services without the need for an appointment, including:

✓ Advice and treatment for minor illnesses

✓ Advice on staying well and preventing disease

✓ Support to maintain good sexual health

✓ Help to quit smoking

✓ Personalised support to get the most from your medicines.

Stephen Noble, local pharmacist and Chief Officer of the Dudley Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “Many people visit pharmacies to collect prescriptions or ask about their medication, but they do not know about all the services they can provide. ‘Ask Your Pharmacist Week’ is a really timely opportunity for us to highlight the important role that pharmacies play in the community and the whole range of services they provide, especially as we head into winter.

“There are over 200 community pharmacies across the Black Country and West Birmingham and many of these offer seven-day opening and late hours, meaning that they’re the perfect place for busy people to get help and advice for minor ailments that could avoid a trip to the GP.

“We also have a number of pharmacies supporting the NHS winter vaccination programme, offering the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine to those who are eligible. Vaccines are our best protection this winter so find out if you are eligible at nhs.uk/wintervaccinations.”

Other services offered by your local pharmacy include medicines reviews to ensure you’re taking the right medication at the right time, and healthy living advice clinics. Most pharmacies have private consulting rooms where you can talk to your pharmacist in confidence if you need to.

Patients registered with GP practices in the Black Country and West Birmingham can also make use of the Pharmacy First service. This service provides people who are exempt from prescription charges with over-the-counter medicines rather than you needing to see a GP to receive the medication on a free prescription. Cick here for more information on Pharmacy First and to find participating pharmacies. 

To find your local pharmacy visit nhs.uk.