Did you know that community pharmacies offer many more services than most people realise? Health checks for blood pressure and cholesterol, treatment for minor ailments from coughs and colds to tummy bugs, help with allergies, weight management and stopping smoking, personalised medicines advice and much much more.

As part of Ask Your Pharmacist Week (5-12 November), Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is encouraging people to make use of the wide range of services and advice available at their community pharmacy – it really is more than just a place to pick up pills!

Across Kent and Medway, there are 314 pharmacies in towns and villages. Many pharmacies are open late – some until 11pm at night – and at weekends, and you don’t need an appointment. By visiting your pharmacist instead of going to your GP surgery or Accident and Emergency (A & E), you will be seen quickly. It’s a much more convenient alternative and keeps other NHS services such as A & E, available for people with serious and life-threatening illnesses and injuries.

Community pharmacists are knowledgeable healthcare professionals who are accessible to everyone. They offer expert, confidential advice and treatment and can also support people to self-care, helping you to manage a long-term health condition, such as asthma or arthritis. If you regularly take prescription medicine, you can ask for a medicines use review to identify any problems and check your medication is working for you.

A number of pharmacies across Kent and Medway will, within the next month, provide specialist in-store services and expert advice, branded as a ‘Healthy Living Pharmacy.’ Kent and Medway has become one of 20 successful national pathfinder sites to offer people an extended healthy living service for issues such as alcohol consumption, sexual health and dietary advice.

Medway Clinical Commissioning Group is also reaching out to men this November, to take a more active interest in their medicines and well-being and to talk to their local pharmacist about some of the healthcare services they may need.

Dr Nathan Nathan, Chair of Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “People are often surprised to learn about the wide range of services available at their local pharmacy. Pharmacies do more than just dispense medicines, offering support and help to patients on a range of issues from minor ailments and health checks to weight management and help to stop smoking. Medway Clinical Commissioning Group encourages local residents to make use of the excellent services available on their doorstep.”

So for help to quit smoking, advice on sexual health, preventing disease or signposting to other services, look no further than your community pharmacy. It’s a package of care…not just packets of pills!

Put your faith in well trained, expert NHS community pharmacists and medicine counter assistants. Why don’t you ask your pharmacist something new during Ask Your Pharmacist Week?

To find your local community pharmacy visit http://www.nhs.uk or call 0845 46 47.