Local pharmacies can offer a wealth of health support and should be the first port of call for common illnesses such as coughs and colds over the festive period.
That’s the message from NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) which is urging people across Ashford, Tenterden and the surrounding area to think of their pharmacy first for common minor ailments.
Dr Navin Kumta, Chair of the CCG, said: “At this time of year, many people get colds and visit their GP, when in reality a quick trip to the pharmacy is what they need.”
Pharmacies can provide much more than just a prescription. They can advise on minor ailments and how to use medications effectively and safely.
Dr Kumta said: “Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals, who are qualified to offer health advice and guidance, particularly on common problems such as headache, coughs and colds, tummy bugs, verrucas and worms.
“They will advise you on buying over-the-counter medicine and give advice on prescribed medication. Many pharmacies are open for longer hours than GP surgeries, and you don’t need an appointment.”
Dr Kumta added: “If a pharmacist can’t help you, they will be able to direct you to the right place, whether that is your GP, practice nurse, or a minor injuries unit. Many pharmacies now have consulting rooms people can discuss their problems with the pharmacist in private.”
Pharmacies also offer health improvement services such as stop smoking and weight management.
The push to use pharmacists comes in the midst of the winter season of coughs and colds. Dr Kumta said: “The best treatment for a cold is to drink fluids, take paracetamol and rest. Antibiotics don’t work against viral infections such as colds and will not be prescribed by your doctor.”
To find your nearest pharmacist, and check opening hours, see www.healthhelpnow-nhs.net.
The Health Help Now web app is free to use and has been developed by local GPs and health professionals to help people in Kent find out about local health services.
NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group 22 December 2013