The Independent Pharmacy – Advice, Medicine and toiletries

The start of 2017 has been a particularly bleak chapter in the story of our beloved NHS. We have heard the Red Cross describe the  amount of patients, overcrowding in hospitals and waiting times described as a ‘Humanitarian Crisis’, with figures showing that 2016 saw two and a half million more patients treated in A&E than were treated six years ago. Clearly, we have to think more clearly and carefully about how and when we use or A&E departments.

However, long waits to see our own GPs can often lead to the decision to visit a hospital or a drop-in centre, creating long waits in these departments. But we also have to admit that sometimes we pay visits to our Doctors when we could be self medicating, especially when it comes to minor ailments or illness and viruses. The sort of service offered by The Independent Pharmacy could be another port of call when we are feeling unwell.

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The Independent Pharmacy is an online medical service. It has an online doctor who you can talk to about your symptons, you can be offered help and advice, as well as being pointed in the direction of over the counter remedies which can often be as effective as prescribed meds and cost less. There is also a live pharmacy team so you can ask questions related to medication before you choose something.

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The Independent Pharmacy also specialises in key areas of health,  including Men’s, Women’s, Sexual and Travel Health and can provide free online consultations via the Online Doctor with a team of GPs & Pharmacist Prescribers for a broad range of ailments, offering convenience, discretion and value alongside excellent customer service. They also have a very useful travel health section, offering advice on medication and innoculations needed when traveling to different parts of the world. This is a non-urgent medical issue, but one which still takes up valuable doctor/patient time which could be used more effectively treating someone who is actually ill.

Ultimately, most of us prefer to see our own GP, but when this is just not possible, or when our complaint is minor rather than serious, using the services of an online doctor or pharmacist may be more convenient for us all and definitely worth a look.

 

Would you have an online consultation with a doctor?

You feel unwell, but you’ve phoned your doctors surgery and they have no appointments for the next week. Would you consider an online consultation with a doctor instead? You could have the appointment at a time to suit you, the doctor would be highly qualified, and you wouldn’t have to wait. It seems that the overwhelming answer to this would be no.

 Following on from the launch of the new smart phone app Dr Now, which is the latest in a line of UK start-up apps offering online GP diagnosis, Pryers Solicitors have asked patients across the United Kingdom if they would use an online consultation service, and a staggering 68% of respondents said no.

I think the reasons for this are simple. The personal interaction with your own doctor are important – they know you, know your medical history and background, and so are the people best capable of assessing your medical needs. The face-to-face interaction are important, especially for the older generation, and obviously, if you need a prescription, an online consultation may mean you still need an appointment from you own doctor to get a prescription for medication. Add in the fact that it is not free, and that tax payers are already paying for the NHS, along with very expensive prescriptions, and this seems to be a factor that turns people off the idea of ‘virtual doc.’ Ultimately, I think people believe that a doctor needs to actually see you in the flesh to make a judgement on what is wrong with you.

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Jenny from medical negligence specialists Pryers explained a little more about the findings, which you can read more about here. She says:-

“We were a little surprised by these results, we did expect that people may take a little convincing to use these apps, but to see it was such a strong ‘no’ across all age ranges and genders is surprising. It is particularly worrying when you consider that 85% of the over 65 age group said ‘no’ to using these apps, as these are the people who are more likely to need a doctor’s help. If we continue to promote the use of apps as a way to save the NHS we run the risk of marginalising the most at risk members of society.”

So it is a definite no from the public. But I do think there is a flip side. My little boy often has sniffles, coughs and colds, and sometimes, as a parent, all I really need is some advice and some answers to my questions. I don’t actually want to drag a poorly, miserable child out to a surgery filled with sick, sneezy people, but would like the help and advice, and preferably from a trained doctor. In these circumstances, I think an online consultation would be really useful.

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Another time this would be very much a positive would be in times of epidemics. Rotavirus, Norovirus, Swine Flu, all these have been times when people have been encouraged to stay away from doctors surgeries to prevent spreading of the disease. I think many people would then consider an online consultation to allay their fears and seek guidance.

But ultimately, I find myself siding with the majority. I may enjoy a game of online scrabble, but I don’t want to play online Russian Roulette by not seeking proper advice for a medical problem – it may be something minor, but what if it’s not?