We all know that pharmacists dispense medicines.

But they do a lot more than that. Local pharmacies offer a range of health services that you may not be aware of.

For example, pharmacies promote health and wellbeing, and provide access to stopping smoking, sexual health and alcohol support services. These services could save you a trip to your Doctor or help you make healthy lifestyle changes.

What your pharmacy offers

In Australia, most of us are within a short car ride or walk of a community pharmacy. That means we all have quick and easy access to a pharmacist who’s an expert in the safe use of medicines.

Help with your medicines

Pharmacists are trained experts in the use of medicines. They can advise you on the safe use of prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Lots of pharmacies are open until late and at weekends, which is useful if you start feeling unwell at 8pm and the local GPs are all shut.

When to see your pharmacist

Pharmacies can help with a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as aches and pains, cystitis, colds and skin rashes. Minor health problems like these lead to many GP consultations a year. We could save ourselves and our GPs time if we went to the pharmacy instead. No appointment is needed.

If you have one of these common conditions, your pharmacist can give advice and medicines, if appropriate. These medicines won’t be on prescription, so you’ll have to pay for them. Your pharmacist can also tell you if you need to see a GP.

Here are a few other ways your local pharmacy may be able to help:

The morning-after-pill – this can work for up to 72 hours after sex, but sooner you take it, the more likely it will work; lost of pharmacies sell this over the counter after a consultation with the pharmacist. Pharmacies can also help with pregnancy tests – most pharmacies sell pregnancy test kits, and some have a private area where you can use the kit.

Improving health and wellbeing

Pharmacy teams are increasingly supporting people to improve their health and wellbeing. They also support people to look after themselves and their families without having to go to a GP all the time.

Pharmacists and their teams offer healthy lifestyle advice that covers topics such as healthy eating, physical activity, losing weight and stopping smoking, especially if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, are a smoker, or are overweight. Those with serious long-term conditions, such as diabetes, will still need regular reviews with their Doctor or a specialist. The pharmacist can advise on when is best to see a GP.