Make the most of your local pharmacist
To celebrate national 'Ask Your Pharmacist' week (November 9-15), NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and Merton's pharmacists are highlighting what pharmacists do and encouraging more people to make the most of the services offered by local pharmacies – including the flu jab.
Merton's community pharmacies offer a free NHS flu vaccination to adults at risk of flu including pregnant women, people aged 65 and over, people with long-term health conditions and carers. If you have your flu jab at a pharmacy, you don’t have to inform your GP – the pharmacist will inform your GP.
Merton CCG Chief Pharmacist Sedina Agama said: "One of the best ways to avoid flu is to get a flu jab. Getting the jab is a quick and easy process and it will protect you against flu. I would encourage any resident who is in one of the target groups to go and have their free flu jab straightaway."
As part of the national Stay Well This Winter campaign, Merton CCG is reminding residents that if they start to feel unwell, even if it's just a cough or a cold, they should get help from a pharmacist quickly before it gets more serious.
Sedina Agama added: "With winter just around the corner, please remember that if you start to feel unwell, even if it is just a cough or cold, don’t wait for it to get worse. Instead, seek immediate advice from your pharmacist, because the sooner you get help the better."
There are 41 pharmacies in Merton, with many providing clinics and support groups and giving individual consultations that are private and confidential, so people can feel confident talking about any health concerns they may have.
Pharmacists are able to give some medicine without GP prescriptions, so it can be quicker and easier to check with your pharmacist if you have a minor ailment rather than making an appointment to see your family doctor. If you don’t pay prescription charges you will still have access to medicine free of charge if the pharmacy provides a minor ailment service.
Raj Patel, Superintendent Pharmacist at the Nelson Pharmacy and Chair of Merton, Sutton & Wandsworth Local Pharmaceutical Committee based at the new Nelson Health Centre, said, "Your local pharmacist can offer advice about the right medicines to treat common complaints such as coughs and colds, flu, backache, stomach upsets and cuts & grazes. We will recommend medicine appropriate to your symptoms and if we feel you need to be seen by a GP or dentist, we will signpost you to the best service for you. Community pharmacists can also give you advice about the medicines that you have been prescribed by your doctor.
"You don’t need to make an appointment to see a community pharmacist and you don’t need to be registered either. Just drop in to your nearest pharmacy when it’s best for you. Next time you’re thinking about getting some advice about your health and aren’t sure who to go to, think about asking your pharmacist first."