Pharmacists defend their reputation

A SUFFOLK pharmacist has reassured people that they can go to their chemists for advice – but they need to give them all the information that they have.

A SUFFOLK pharmacist has reassured people that they can go to their chemists for advice - but they need to give them all the information that they have.

Karl Legg's advice comes after the publication research from Which? magazine which highlighted that a third of pharmacies visited failed to give proper advice on medical matters.

People are often told to visit their pharmacists about everyday illnesses such as coughs and stomach upsets instead of visiting a GP.

But in some cases in the Which? consumer investigation the wrong advice was given, leaving some people at risk of unplanned pregnancies and suffering with serious untreated infections.

Mr Legg, chairman of the Ipswich and Suffolk branch of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said that if people are concerned they should ask to speak to the pharmacist themselves but should also have a list of the tablets they are already taking.

He said: "We may be tied up at the time but if they are prepared to wait a few minutes we can talk to them. It is hard juggling the responsibility of dispensing with the responsibility of the counter.

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"One of the other things to remember is it is important to help us do our job.

"We should ask what other medicines you take but come prepared and know what other medicines you are taking.

"People sometimes forget over the counter medicines like Paracetomol but if they are taking any medicines at all they should let us know."

Mr Legg, who works at Walton pharmacy said there are some cases where if people are taking medicines on a regular basis such as the contraceptive pill or blood pressure pills, they do not tell the pharmacist.

He added that most people who already have a good relationship with their pharmacist, trust the advice they are given and are happy with that.

Mr Legg also pointed out that only a small amount of pharmacists appear to have been visited as part of the survey.

The report comes as the Government prepares to expand the role of pharmacists to allow them to issue repeat prescriptions without involving a GP and selling medicines which have only been available on prescription.

Suffolk's Primary Care Trust have also been promoting the use of pharmacists for everyday illnesses as another option rather than seeing a GP.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the PCT's said: "The view points and experiences of people who use all health care services is taken very seriously by the PCT's.

"In East Suffolk we are very lucky to have a tradition of excellent pharmacies which are closely monitored.

"They are accredited and have to be qualified."

A spokesman for The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, which regulates pharmacists, said that the society was extremely disappointed in the findings of the survey and that they will be investigating the incidents.

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