Cllr Jill Haynes visiting Victoria Park Pharmacy

Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset County Council Cabinet member for health and care has visited Victoria Park Pharmacy in Maud Road, Dorchester, to hear about the work the team are doing to help residents in Dorset this winter. Cllr Haynes heard how local pharmacies are helping to get residents vaccinated against flu and about the advice and support they can give people when they have coughs, colds or other symptoms, rather than them going to see their GP.

During the visit Cllr Haynes discussed various services with the pharmacy team and also had a cardiovascular test. They also heard about how community pharmacies are aiming for a record year for flu vaccinations.

In particular, pharmacist Robin Mitchell was keen to tell her about how the pharmacy is preparing for the winter months and trying to support local GP practices. They also discussed the impact that pharmacy services can have on the NHS, helping to reduce pressure on local GPs and hospitals.

Robin comments: “This winter community pharmacies are going to be needed more than ever. We are the first port of call for many local people on healthcare matters and our regular patients and the wider community really rely on us. This is particularly the case over the winter months with coughs, colds and flu all becoming more common, and GP practices and hospitals already working flat out.

As well as making sure everyone has the medicines they need this winter we’ll be helping people to understand and make the most of those medicines, and offering them advice on common ailments. We can also vaccinate people against flu, if they are eligible for a free NHS flu jab. And all of this without the need to wait for an appointment.”

He also said: “As many patients in Dorset will know, our local community pharmacies are doing far more than just dispensing medicines this winter. They are offering a whole range of services and can be particularly helpful as we move into the winter season and GPs and hospitals become busier.

We’re really proud of how our local pharmacies have been doing with the NHS flu vaccination service, helping to make sure that everyone who needs the vaccine, gets it. But we believe the Government should be making even better use of pharmacies; we would love to offer even more services to help local people to stay healthy, and reduce pressure on other local healthcare services.”

Cllr Haynes added“As we approach the winter months, all NHS and social care services are working harder than ever to manage the increasing demand for healthcare. I have learnt today about how community pharmacies are playing their part in these efforts, helping people when they are feeling unwell or need healthcare advice. I am keen to ensure the council does all that it can to help develop community pharmacy services that meet the needs of both local patients and health and care services.”