Roles of the pharmacist
When you start taking medicines, it is a good idea to go and ask to talk to your local pharmacist. Although you can use a different pharmacy every time you get a new prescription, there are some advantages to finding a pharmacy you like and then sticking with it. It might be somewhere close to your home or work, or just somewhere that has a nice atmosphere and friendly people on the counter.
Each time you have a prescription dispensed, the pharmacist uses their computer system to print the label. As they put in the details of your medicine, the computer stores a record of it with your name and address. The next time you come in, they can add the next prescription to your record.
There are some excellent reasons why it is helpful for you to have the information there:
- If you ever need an emergency supply of your medicine, all the details are there.
- If you want to buy a medicine over-the-counter, the pharmacist can check whether it would cause any problems with your prescription medicines.
- If you have any requests, like ‘please give me sugar-free liquid’, they can put this as a note on your record and you won’t have to ask them every time.
- If you have an unusual medicine, they can keep it in stock for you.
- If you ever want to ask about the medicines you have had, the pharmacist can look back and help you.
Most pharmacies now have quiet areas or rooms where you can have a private talk to the pharmacist. Do not be afraid of asking if you can go somewhere quiet to speak. You do not have to tell anyone at the counter why you want to talk to the pharmacist – just ask if you can have a private word with them. You may not want to talk about a sensitive subject in the shop part of the pharmacy, and that is fine. It can be a big help to take a friend or family member with you to the pharmacy. Someone you trust can help you to remember what you talked about. Take them in with you!
If you want to speak to someone in particular – say you feel more comfortable talking to a man than a woman, or vice versa – just ask if you can. They may ask you to come back later, or on another day, when that person is in – but do not be embarrassed to ask.
Pharmacists can also do services like Medicines Use Reviews (MURs), where you can take in your medicines and they will talk through what each one is for. They can do this big review once every year for you, if you want them to. They do not tell your GP everything that you discuss. They make notes for their own records. Sometimes they might ask the GP to make a change to your medicines, if they feel you could get more benefit from a change: if so, you should get a copy of what they write to the GP. You can watch a video about MURs here
So it might be a good idea to introduce yourself to your local pharmacist, and ask for their help. That way you will have another professional on your side that you can talk to about your medicines.
Notes for Young People in Scotland:
Pharmacists can help you with your medicines using the Chronic Medication Service. There are special resources in the CMS for taking lithium and clozapine. You can read more about it here
Notes for Young People in Wales:
Pharmacists here also do Medicines Use Reviews and you can read more about it here