LETTER: We can all relieve pressure on A&E

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We all know that doctors work very hard, listening to our aches and pains, and working anti-social hours. The government is spending money which you and I pay in our taxes.

In the meantime, there is something we can all do to relieve pressure on A&E, and on your doctor.

Next time you are unwell, visit your local pharmacy. Your friendly pharmacist will be pleased to listen to your account of the symptoms (in a private consultation area if necessary). He (or she) will then recommend a suitable medicine you can buy over the counter, or refer you to a doctor if he thinks it is more serious.

Pharmacists spend four years at University to gain a degree. They also have one year’s practical training in a pharmacy. There are exams at the end of each year that they must pass.

Sometimes the pharmacist will make the call for you to the doctor or A&E if he feels it is more serious.

I once had a lady who had eaten poisonous mushrooms of the Amanita genus. Amanita Phalloides is the most deadly killer, and responsible for 90 per cent of human deaths. You have symptoms at first, such as headaches and vomiting. Then these symptoms subside for 48 hours. After that you die of fatal liver damage.

My patient went in to the surgery, but I learned that she could not wait to see the doctor, because she had to meet her kids from school. I sent a message to the lady, via one of my staff who lived in her road, that she must seek medical help.

At 12.30am I was awakened by a phone call from the consultant, asking me to describe the mushrooms. Luckily the ones she ate were known as ‘destroying Angel’ or Amanita Visens. There are also fatal, but not quite so toxic.

Later that week the lady called in to thank me and my assistant for saving her life. We felt very proud of the fact that someone was alive and well, instead of being a corpse.

FRANCIS BAYLISS

Retired Pharmacist

Wheatsheaf Lane, Cuckfield

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