Northern Ireland's Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Cathy Harrison has launched a new campaign to highlight the importance of using medicine safely.
'Know, Check, Ask' is a simple three-step message to help increase public awareness and understanding about the importance of using medicine safely:
* KNOW your medicines and keep an up-to-date list
* CHECK that you are using your medicines in the right way.
* ASK your healthcare professional if you're not sure.
Mrs Harrison said: "In Northern Ireland, we are fortunate to benefit from effective systems for the safe prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines. Our health service has developed these robust systems over many years to ensure medication safety is a top priority for everyone receiving and providing care within the health and social system.
"However, we know that errors can still occur and we are committed to supporting improvements that aim to reduce or prevent the risk of harm to patients. The Know, Check, Ask campaign will support that by helping to equip people with the knowledge and skills they need to be safe with medication.
"I'm encouraging everyone who takes medication regularly to be more involved in decisions about their medication and encourage them to report or discuss issues and concerns with a healthcare professional. People should always follow the directions on the medicine label and take medicines at the right dose and at the right time of day. They should never stop, reduce or increase their medicines without asking a healthcare professional and they should never share medicines with others."
Aisling Elliott, community pharmacist at Clear Pharmacy said: "Keeping a list of medications, including other medicines or supplements you have bought, such as vitamins or herbal medicines, helps community pharmacists, healthcare professionals and care givers know what medicines you are taking. Bringing an up-to-date list of your medicines to healthcare appointments and the pharmacy visits helps us to give you the best advice and helps you get the best out of your medicines. Some people find it useful to take a photo of their medications list and keep it on their phone or take photographs of their medications with the label in full view".
In conclusion, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer said: "I am delighted that the Know, Check, Ask campaign is being launched in over 500 community pharmacies across Northern Ireland. The expertise of pharmacists and the accessibility of community pharmacies creates an ideal opportunity for people to ask questions and become more involved in decisions about their medication.
"This campaign plays a key role in supporting the Department of Health's strategic plan 'Transforming Medication Safety in Northern Ireland' to improve safe practices with medicines and embed a medication safety culture within our population."
Leaflets are available at local community pharmacies with more information which includes a 'My Medicines List' to record your medicines.