Take ill children to the chemist first, says Ilford pharmacist

Pharmacist Shaheen Bhatia. Photo: Shaheen Bhatia

Pharmacist Shaheen Bhatia. Photo: Shaheen Bhatia - Credit: Archant

An Ilford pharmacist is reminding residents that chemists are their first point of call for minor illnesses, not the GP or A&E.

Visits to GPs and A&E for “self-treatable” conditions, such as stomach ache, cost £850m a year, according to an NHS England campaign launched yesterday (February 12).

The Stay Well Pharmacy campaign is urging people to visit their local pharmacist to help save money and free up time for the patients who have more severe conditions.

The Recorder spoke to Shaheen Bhatia, who founded P&S Chemist in Ilford Lane 30 years ago, to find out more about the services chemists offer to help lighten the burden on the NHS.

“We have had a minor ailments service for the past 15 years,” she explained.

Residents can use this service at any pharmacist signed up to the Minor Ailments Scheme.

It covers a wide range of conditions from athlete’s foot and diarrhoea, to scabies and sprains.

Most Read

“People can get free appointments for common minor illnesses free on the NHS within two to four weeks.

“If we think that illnesses are more serious, we can write a referral in order for a patient to be seen by a GP more quickly.

“These consultations are carried out in private clinical rooms, so that the person can have discrete and confidential advice, and not just over the counter, as people assume.”

Shaheen says promotion of the minor ailment scheme has fallen following the 2013 introduction of clinical commissioning groups which decide which health services to fund in the borough.

She regularly visits Uphall Primary School, in Uphall Road, to improve awareness and address misconceptions.

“Some parents are concerned whether pharmacists are qualified enough to treat their children,” she said.

“We are very qualified. To become pharmacists we must complete a five-year degree.”

These visits are also an opportunity to examine minor ailments and provide parents with an official note on whether their children are well enough to attend school.

NHS England’s nationwide campaign follows a survey which found just 6per cent of parents with under-fives would go to a pharmacist first.

Find out more about the services available at P&S Chemist www.pschemist.com/