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Medicines are the most common form of treatment in the NHS and pharmacies are where medicines are stored, prepared and dispensed.

Pharmacy

Medicines are the most common form of treatment in the NHS and pharmacies are where medicines are stored, prepared and dispensed. Pharmacies can be found in hospitals and the community, in health centres and GP surgeries and in high street shops and supermarkets. 

Community pharmacies are where patients and members of the public can get their prescribed medication as well as lifestyle advice for better health. Pharmacists offer advice direct to patients on public health issues such as giving up smoking and sexual health and play a part in selecting treatments for patients, prescribing medicines and managing of long-term health conditions such as asthma and diabetes. 

Pharmacy staff play a vital part in patient care and recovery as well as public health, by using their expert knowledge of medicines and their uses. They work with colleagues in the wider healthcare team such as doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. 

Pharmacist

Pharmacists are experts in medicines and their use. They also offer health advice to patients on issues such as sexual health and giving up smoking.

See how they use their knowledge of medicines to help people with every type of medical condition and find out how you could use your science skills to become a pharmacist.


Working life

Medicines are the most common treatments offered to NHS patients. A pharmacist is an expert in medicines and their use. Their knowledge of medicines and the effect they have on the human body is critical for the successful management of every type of medical condition.

Pharmacists:

  • advise other healthcare professionals, including doctors and nurses, on how to choose medicines and use them correctly
  • ensure that new medicines are safe to use with other medication
  • advise on dosage and suggest the most appropriate form of medication such as tablet, injection, ointment or inhaler
  • make sure that patients use their medicines safely
  • provide information to patients on how get the maximum benefit from the medicines they are prescribed
  • advise on the most effective treatments for a particular condition including those for sale without prescription
  • help patients manage long term conditions
  • recommend changes to prescriptions and give advice on prescribing
  • provide information about potential side effects
  • monitor the effects of treatment to ensure that it is safe and effective

Pharmacists are also involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. For example, certain cancer treatments and intravenous feeding solutions need to be tailor made under sterile conditions for individual patients.

Pharmacists work as part of healthcare teams in hospitals or community pharmacies. Some work in retail pharmacies in supermarkets or on the high street, or for other employers that provide NHS services. Community pharmacists are based in health centres or pharmacies but they may spend time visiting patients at home or in residential homes.

Pharmacists may also supervise pharmacy technician and pharmacy assistants in purchasing, quality testing or dispensing medicines.

Pharmacy technician

Pharmacy technicians manage the supply of medicines in a community pharmacy and assist pharmacists with advisory services. In hospitals, they do more specialised work such as manufacturing or preparing complex medicines.


Working life

Pharmacy technicians are part of the pharmacy team, preparing and dispensing medicines. Pharmacies are where medicines are stored, prepared and dispensed.

Medicines are the most common treatments offered to NHS patients. Pharmacy technicians work as part of a pharmacy team under the direction of a registered pharmacist. The work includes:

  • taking in and handing out prescriptions
  • dispensing prescriptions
  • using computer systems to generate stock lists and labels
  • ordering items
  • receiving, loading, unloading deliveries
  • delivering medicines to other parts of a hospital or health centre
  • selling over-the-counter medicines
  • answering customers questions face to face or by phone
  • pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines
  • preparing medicines
  • referring problems or queries to the pharmacist

Pharmacy technicians can also be involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. For example, certain cancer treatments and intravenous feeding solutions need to be tailor made under sterile conditions for individual patients.

Pharmacy technicians work as part of healthcare teams in hospitals or community pharmacies. Some work in retail pharmacies in supermarkets or on the high street, or for other employers that provide NHS services. In community pharmacies they may be called dispensing assistants.

Pharmacy assistant

Pharmacy assistants help pharmacists order, prepare and dispense medicines. See how you could use your customer service skills in a pharmacy.


Working life

A pharmacy is where medicines are stored, prepared and dispensed. Medicines are the most common treatments offered to NHS patients.

Pharmacy assistants work as part of a pharmacy team under the direction of a registered pharmacist. The work includes:

  • taking in and handing out prescriptions
  • dispensing prescriptions
  • using computer systems to generate stock lists and labels
  • ordering items
  • receiving, loading, unloading deliveries
  • delivering medicines to other parts of a hospital or health centre
  • selling over-the-counter medicines
  • answering customers questions face to face or by phone
  • pre-packing, assembling and labelling medicines
  • preparing medicines
  • referring problems or queries to the pharmacist

Pharmacy assistants can also be involved in manufacturing medicines when ready-made preparations are not available. For example, certain cancer treatments and intravenous feeding solutions need to be tailor made under sterile conditions for individual patients.

Pharmacy assistants work as part of healthcare teams in hospitals or community pharmacies. Some work in retail pharmacies in supermarkets or on the high street, or for other employers that provide NHS services. In community pharmacies they may be called dispensing assistants.

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