This page is a printable version of: https://www.redbridgeccg.nhs.uk/redbridge---chairs-blogs/visit-your-local-pharmacy-for-fast-and-friendly-advice/103938?postdiaryentryid=288203&ignore=visit-your-local-pharmacy-for-fast-and-friendly-advice&postid=103938
Date: 19 February 2020
Looking after your own health at home or visiting your local pharmacy for help and advice could save you an unnecessary visit to your GP practice. Winter is the busiest time for hospitals and GPs, but many common illnesses like coughs and colds can be treated with over-the-counter products and rest.
Your pharmacist is a qualified healthcare professional who can recognise common winter illnesses and recommend medicines to help. They can advise on things you can do at home to help yourself and will tell you if you do need to see your GP.
Pharmacies can also be used for prevention, such as vaccinations or repeat prescriptions. For example, if you have a 2 or 3 year old, I strongly encourage you to get them a free flu vaccination at your local pharmacy or with your GP (if you haven’t already this winter!).
If you can’t get to your local pharmacy for advice, NHS 111 is free and available over the phone or online (111.nhs.uk). You can also use the e-consult function on your local practice’s website for advice, and the NHS app can help you check symptoms among many other things.
Remember – A&E is designed for life-threatening emergencies. If you need urgent help for a non-life-threatening emergency, NHS 111 or one of the other options I have mentioned is your best bet. And if it’s a minor concern, consider visiting your local pharmacy for fast and friendly advice. Find your local pharmacy and check its opening hours at nhs.uk/service-search.