Medicines and pharmacies

What to expect from your pharmacy team

Pharmacies do more than dispense prescriptions and medicines. Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns.

As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If symptoms suggest it’s something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to see a GP.

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends. You don’t need an appointment – you can just walk in.

Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard.

Many pharmacies will also offer:

  • Emergency contraception
  • Asthma inhaler use and advice
  • Pregnancy testing
  • Chlamydia screening and treatment
  • Stop smoking service
  • Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing
  • Substance misuse service
  • Weight management advice
  • Flu vaccination

To find pharmacies near you, use the NHS website online pharmacy search.

Healthy Living Pharmacies

Healthy Living Pharmacies provide extended services to support healthy living for patients.

The support on offer includes help to stop smoking, referral to local exercise programmes, advice on eating healthily, free emergency contraception, and general support and lifestyle advice.

Getting the right medicines

This year the NHS will cost around £124 billion, of which £14 billion (that’s £38 million every day) will be spent on medicines. With the age of the population increasing rapidly, the demand for medicines, and on the NHS as a whole, is growing dramatically.

Medicines are one of the ways that the NHS can reduce costs whilst improving care. We no longer support routine prescribing of health supplements and medications that can be bought over-the-counter from community pharmacies, in line with the NHS England guidance.

This means your GP might suggest that you buy some common medicines, available over-the-counter from your local pharmacy or a shop, rather than getting them on prescription.

These are often likely to be much cheaper than the cost of a prescription.