Your local pharmacy can provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints, without having to wait for a GP appointment.
Some of the things pharmacies can help with include aches, pains, stopping smoking, medicines, advice, the morning after pill, hay fever, coughs, colds, diarrhoea, allergies, skin conditions and flu jabs.
You can talk to your pharmacist in confidence and you do not need to make an appointment. It is possible to walk into any community pharmacy and ask to speak with the pharmacist.
They may be able to spend some time with you or offer you an appointment for a consultation. All the discussions with your pharmacist can take place in person or by phone. Most pharmacies have a private consultation area where patients can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard by other members of the public.
You can also call 111 to find your nearest pharmacy at the weekend or out of hours.
Prescribing and Medicines Management Team
We are a team of Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians who work closely with GP practices, Care Homes and Community Pharmacies. We are based locally in King’s Lynn and cover the West Norfolk area.
Our aim is to enable patients to get the most benefit from their medications whilst ensuring value for money for the NHS. We regularly review medications and advise GPs on the safest and most effective treatments available. We also work with community pharmacies to support them in their work with patients, the projects they undertaken and the campaigns they run.
Changes to your medications
Occasionally your GP practice may write to you to inform you of a change to the medication you are taking. These are usually minor changes; for example switching from a tablet to a capsule or vice-versa, changing to a different medication within the same class of drug, or switching from a branded medicine to an unbranded (or ‘generic’) one.
Making these changes will often result in saving money, which means that the NHS will be able to use the savings to provide additional and otherwise unavailable treatments and procedures for patients.
What are branded and generic medicines?
When a new medication becomes available, its brand is protected by patent for several years. When this patent expires other pharmaceutical companies can produce the same drug often at a reduced price. These drugs are known as ‘generics’. Generic medications must undergo rigorous pharmaceutical checks to ensure they are equivalent in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness to the branded drug.
Switching to a generic medication or alternative drug does not mean you are receiving an inferior treatment. Often the cheapest drugs are the best. Occasionally branded medicines can be cheaper for the NHS to supply than generics.
Quite often different generic / brands of the same medicines are different sizes / colours. Also the packaging can be different too. If you are unsure it is best to check with the dispensing pharmacy or dispensary; the telephone number will be on the printed label.
Over £1 million is wasted on medicines every year in the West Norfolk area. Wasted medicines are classed as those which are prescribed but never taken. Unfortunately even if medication which has been dispensed to you is returned to a Pharmacy/Dispensary they have to be destroyed and cannot be re-used/sent to less economically developed countries because:
- It is not possible to confirm that the medicines have not been tampered with or stored correctly.
- Other countries do not require the same kind of medicines we do.
However, medication which is no longer needed should still be returned to the pharmacy or GP dispensary – do not put them in the bin or down the toilets. This will help protect the environment and other members of the public.
It is therefore crucial that you only order what you need, this means checking what you already have left before submitting your repeat form and/or letting the pharmacy know if they order your medication for you. You should also tell your doctor if you are not taking a medicine or you are taking it different to how it is prescribed. Doctors would rather know this, especially as it will allow them not to consider increases or changes in the medication in question which may have no benefit.
If your medication is changed, please check with the doctor to see if the change needs to be immediate or if you use up what you have at home before starting new medication.
Antibiotic resistance: Bacteria are winning the war
Antibiotics are losing their effectiveness at an increasing rate due to bacteria finding ways to adapt and survive the effects of antibiotics. They therefore become “antibiotic resistant” so that the antibiotic no longer works. The main culprit for this occurrence is the prescribing of antibiotics for mild infections when they don’t need to be as they often get better without antibiotics. These infections include; colds, most coughs, sinusitis, otitis media (earache) and sore throats. The best thing we can do to prevent the spread of resistance is to only prescribe antibiotics when it’s appropriate to do so. This is why often doctors may wait for a few weeks before prescribing antibiotics.
Patients are reminded that if they experience severe symptoms or are worried about their condition they should not hesitate to contact their doctor.
Q: So how should I treat my cold?
A: To treat a cold patients are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids and rest. Colds can last about two weeks and may end with a cough and bringing up phlegm. If needed, there are many over the counter remedies which are available to ease the cold’s symptoms, for example Paracetamol. For more advice on these remedies please ask your pharmacist. If the cold lasts more than three weeks, or you become breathless or have chest pains or already have complaints, see your doctor.
What is a Yellow Book? : Oral Anticoagulation (Warfarin) Booklets
If you are prescribed Warfarin (used to thin the blood) you should have been issued with a yellow book. These books contain useful information and guidance which is important to all patients taking warfarin. Furthermore, it also has a section where your current dose should be recorded together with your latest INR (International Normalised Ratio) results. It is very important that these books are kept up to date with your latest results and should be taken with you to any health care professional, dental appointment or visit to the pharmacy (especially when collecting your Warfarin tablets) so that they are aware you are taking Warfarin.
How to report suspected side effects to medicines?
You can report suspected side effects (also known as adverse drug reactions) to a medicine, vaccine, herbal or complementary remedy by clicking on the link below.
The Yellow Card Scheme, run by the MHRA and the Commission on Human Medicines, is used to collect information from both health professionals and the general public on suspected side effects.
Please follow this link for further information https://yellowcard.mhra.gov.uk
If you have any queries regarding changes to your medication please discuss with your GP or contact the Prescribing Team on 01553 666971.