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Can someone explain how pharmcies work in the UK and Ireland?

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Can someone explain how pharmacies work in the UK and Ireland?   I was just wondering how they work there.  While I was over in Edinbough I realized I was getting an you have to have a prescription for an antibiotic...or do you go in to a pharmacy...and talk with the pharmacist or have to go to a doctor?

And I am wondering the same for the rest of Europe....

T Rai

I don't know if a pharmacist can dispense certain things without a prescription (never tried it), but I've never seen any indication that they can, so I would assume no.  You can go for them and they can probably tell you what OTC stuff you can take (but that's usually not rocket science work).

You can go to a doctor/clinic (look em up in the phone book) who may or may not charge you.  Before becoming a resident here, I needed to get seen by a doctor once (for a bacterial infection) in Bristol.  The clinic charged me since I wasn't eligible for free treatment in the UK at the time (i.e., I wasn't a resident).  I got a script from the doctor and took it to the pharmacy who charged me the normal amount for prescription (6 or 7).  If you are having HIV issues, you can go to an HIV clinic in the city (on a walk-in basis).  Since you're positive, they should treat you and not charge you.

Most people generally see a private doctor if they are out of town for work.  There's usually no waiting to see a private doctor and many will travel to you.  But be careful.  I also have a private (non-NHS) doctor here that is paid for by my US health insurance and employer and if I get a prescription from him then I have to pay the full price for the meds upfront when I go to a pharmacy.  Apparently only scripts written by an NHS doctor are paid for by the NHS, otherwise you have to pay full price for the meds and then submit a claim to your US insurance company/employer for reimbursement.

Thanks Cliff...that is what kind of info I am looking for....just trying to plan ahead in case something happens while I am on a trip.

Trai, your airline must have some kind of medical insurance for crew members. At least Iberia has. We have a card with an international phone number. You phone them and you get a Dr. at the hotel who can give you a prescription. Your private medical insurance must also have agreements with european medical organizations.
In Spain antibiotics are only sold under prescription. If it is a private prescription (private DR.) you have to pay the full price of the medication. Social Security prescriptions provide you free meds or meds for a few cents. That is why in meds in spain have a detachable coupon on their boxes. The pharmacist cuts it and staples it to the social security prescription which will pay for it.
HIV meds are only available at public hospitals and free. You will never find them in a current pharmacy.

T Baby,'s a link to Aidsmap HIV clinic search (by region), in case you need to get access to HIV treatment in the UK.


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