Pharmacists are part of the free healthcare team available to people with non-urgent injuries or illnesses.

“Sprained ankles, sunburn and hay-fever are uncomfortable but not life-threatening. A pharmacist is often able to assist with such ailments,” says Jane Horder, Communications Advisor, Nelson Marlborough Health.

Jane said they are also able to give advice and emergency supplies of ongoing prescription medications.

Pharmacist Andrew McGlashen said they consult across a wide range of regular ailments, not just medicine and medication related.

“We can be seen as a triage point, the first point of contact. We are trained to know when it is something we can deal with and when it is something to refer on, to point people in the right direction to a doctor, dentist, optometrist or to the hospital,” says Andrew.

He said pharmacists have a broad knowledge of a large range of ailments but are not necessarily the one who treats them.

Over time, more and more opportunities have opened up to pharmacists and Andrew hopes there will be even more.

Along with treating minor ailments, skin cuts and abrasions and allergies, pharmacists can do INR testing, which measures the time blood takes to clot, and can consult on and treat uncomplicated urinary tract infections.

They can also give some vaccinations.

“It will be interesting over the next year to see how we will be involved with the masses when Covid-19 vaccines arrive,” says Andrew.

Along with four years at university and a year working as an intern, pharmacists are required to participate in further training every year.

Andrew says he would send people to the hospital on a weekly basis, most commonly out of usual work hours.

“I very much enjoy the variation in a day and helping people,” he says.

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