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Visit your pharmacy first for minor ailments treatment, urges local pharmacist

Dipesh Raghwani is managing director of SMS pharmacy on Devonshire Street, Higher Broughton, which he has managed for over 6 years. He is also the Clinical Lead for Greater Manchester Local Pharmaceutical Committee. Dipesh

Talking about the latest NHS Stay Well Pharmacy campaign, he says: “Salford is quite a progressive area, we are keen to support our customers through the services we provide. We have a network of 60 pharmacies working together across the city to provide seven days a week health services.

“We encourage our residents to come and speak to us about their general health and we support patients to make the best use of medicines to keep them fit and well.

“We are open in the evenings and at weekends when GP practices are not, and you don’t need to make an appointment to speak to a pharmacist.

Pharmacists are qualified professionals. They train for 5 years to become experts in medicines.

Dipesh adds: “We are also friendly, approachable and discreet and offer a patient-centred service. We are here to do the best for our customers.”

Salford pharmacies offer a wide range of services, with SMS Pharmacy providing no fewer than sixteen. One of these is the Electronic Prescription Service, or EPS. This is where the pharmacy receives an electronic prescription straight from the GP for nominated patients.

Dipesh says: “EPS makes life easier for patients. We receive the prescription once the doctor signs it. This means we can have it ready before the patient arrives, saving waiting time. It’s really useful for people with long term conditions and for those who are housebound, for example. It also makes it easier to track and trace prescriptions.”

Dipesh also runs a weight management clinic and a men’s mental health clinic at his pharmacy.

Some Salford pharmacies are signed up to the ‘Healthy Living Pharmacy’, a quality mark which is benchmarked against a national framework. Dipesh explains: “It means we are even more pro-actively pushing health. We want customers to see us as a hub for healthy living.”

The Stay Well Pharmacy campaign is in its third year and the message seems to be getting across. Where people used to go to the GP, now they are coming to pharmacists to get the health advice and support they need for minor ailments.

For parents of young children in particular, ailments including oral thrush, constipation, fever, infant congestion, even head lice, are things which pharmacists can help to treat and give advice about, either over the counter or through the minor ailments scheme  And if the pharmacy can’t deal with it, they will signpost customers to the relevant healthcare service.

The Stay Well Pharmacy campaign means that people of all ages can get the help they need for minor ailments from their pharmacy, without having to wait to see a GP, and this, in turn, frees up GPs to deal with patients with more serious and urgent conditions and takes pressure away from our stretched health services.

Pharmacists in Salford are also culturally aware and have gained cultural insights with regard to medicines and treatment. Customers include people from the Jewish or East European communities, for example. “We recognise we have a mixed, multi-cultural community and we offer appropriate support” says Dipesh.

Pharmacies are the most accessed health care service, with each person on average visiting a pharmacy 14 times a year, this means staff are well placed to push health care messages.

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