Pharmacists can offer help and advice on many illnesses, such as colds or fever, which can be safely treated at home without the need to see a doctor.
They can also sell a range of medication – often at lower cost than a prescription – which will save both patients and the NHS money.
These messages are being promoted by the four east Kent Clinical Commissioning Groups during Self Care Week (from Monday 16 November). The week also coincides with European Antibiotic Awareness Day on Wednesday 18 November, which encourages the correct use of antibiotics.
Dr Navin Kumta, Chair of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Pharmacists are a valuable resource for people when they are feeling under the weather with things like a cold, tummy ache or mild fever. People can save themselves time and free up GP appointments for others. A whole range of medication – from non-branded ibuprofen and paracetamol to antihistamines – can be bought at pharmacists for as little as 19p.
“By supporting people to help themselves, we can not only improve the quality of life for individuals but also use NHS services even more effectively, particularly with winter approaching when we all know that A&E and GPs face huge demands.
“The more that people can take charge of their own healthcare, they more they can save themselves time and save the NHS money which can be invested in providing life-saving treatment. The run-up to winter is also a good time to check that your medicine cabinet is well-stocked.
“You can use the website and mobile phone app Health Help Now if you’re not sure what to do or who to call.”
Developed by the NHS in Kent and Medway, Health Help Now is available on the web and to download to your smart phone. It has lots of local information and can guide you to the service that will be best able to deal with your symptoms. It will show you your nearest pharmacy and whether it is open or closed.
Find out more about Self Care Week: www.england.nhs.uk/2015/09/09/self-care-week/