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Research by the National Pharmacy Association shows that many people underestimate the risks of taking medicines inappropriately. Full and frank conversations with your local pharmacist will help you get the best use from your medicines and minimise your risk of harm.

Did you know that at least 6% of emergency re-admissions to hospital are caused by avoidable adverse reactions to medicines?

Pharmacists train for five years before they qualify and undertake compulsory professional development throughout their career. So ask your pharmacist if you have any concerns at all about the safety or effectiveness of your medicines. 

Here are five simple tips about how to communicate effectively with your pharmacy team – and to be extra safe with your medicines:

1 Feel free to ask your pharmacist anything at all about your medicines, your health and wellbeing; if it’s important to you it’s important to us. To be safer, it is better to reveal too much information than not enough, so bring up problems even if your doctor or pharmacist hasn’t asked about them.

2 Check with your doctor or pharmacist anything that is unclear about the explanations or advice they have given you; one way is to repeat what you think the pharmacist means in your own words and ask, “Is this correct”?  If you are still uncertain about anything when you get home, call to talk to the pharmacist or visit the pharmacy again.

3 If you think the medicines you have been supplied with, or the advice and instructions that have come with them, are not right for you, say so. The doctor or pharmacist will not be offended and should welcome the opportunity to reassure you, to clarify information, or to discuss alternatives.

4 If you are in the pharmacy to get treatment for a minor ailment, be clear about your symptoms – what exactly are they, how long have you had them, do they affect your daily activities? Answer any questions asked by pharmacy staff accurately and fully, so that the pharmacist can be sure that the medicine is safe for you and that your symptoms don’t indicate a serious underlying health problem.

5 If you want to talk to the pharmacist in more depth about your medicines, ask if you are eligible for one of the free of charge NHS medicines advice services available in most pharmacies, designed to help you get the most out of your medicines. 


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