Pharmacy support staff are ideally placed to advise customers on a wide range of conditions, says the NPA. Its free online tool – Assess & Learn – can help support staff stay up-to-date and test their knowledge

The NPA’s free online learning tool – Assess & Learn – tests pharmacy support staff’s knowledge by asking multiple choice questions about numerous day-to-day scenarios that may occur in the pharmacy. Here are a few taster scenarios:

A customer is suffering with a dry cough, which she has had for a couple of days. She doesn’t have any medical conditions and does not take any prescribed medication on a regular basis. Which one of the following is a soothing agent, mainly used in mixtures for dry, tickly coughs, and can be found in combination with honey and lemon?

  • Dextromethorphan
  • Guaifenesin
  • Pholcodine
  • Glycerin

A The correct answer is glycerin. This is a soothing preparation for the relief of the symptoms of coughs and sore throats. Adults can take two 5ml spoonfuls repeated every four hours if required.

A customer is complaining of a burning sensation in his chest and a bitter acid taste in the back of his throat, which he has had for the past day. After WWHAM questioning, you find that he has not tried anything yet and is not on any other medication. Which one of the following products would be most appropriate to recommend to ease his symptoms?

  • Eno Powder
  • Gaviscon Advance Mint Chewable Tablets
  • Wind-eze Tablets
  • Motilium 10 Tablets

A The correct answer is Gaviscon Advance Mint Chewable Tablets. Gaviscon will form a protective layer on top of the stomach contents to prevent stomach acid escaping and working itself into the oesophagus, causing pain and discomfort.

Q A customer is unable to empty his bowels for two days and would like you to recommend something that will work fairly quickly and is quite gentle. Which of the following products would be the most appropriate to sell to the customer, given his requirements?

  • Senokot Tablets
  • Liquid Paraffin
  • Lactulose Solution
  • Fybogel Sachets

The Senokot Tablets would be the most appropriate. Senokot contains a natural stimulant laxative and usually has an effect within eight to 12 hours. It should be taken in a single dose at night. If there is no bowel movement after three days of taking Senokot, the customer should be referred to a GP.

The NPA’s free Assess & Learn module contains scenarios on a number of topics, including pain, women’s health, first aid and questioning, counselling and communication skills. To access, visit:

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