The long Easter weekend traditionally puts extra pressure on health services, with visitors to South Devon and Torbay increasing the number of people here at a time when GP practices are closed.
So South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the vast majority of healthcare in the area, is reminding people of the range of health advice and treatment available at pharmacies.
Dr John Whitehead, CCG lead for primary care, said: “While GP surgeries are closed, there will be a number of community pharmacies open, all of which offer an array of services.
“Pharmacists are highly qualified healthcare professionals who can help with many people’s health problems, and they can offer a private space to talk with someone about their symptoms.
“Of course, many minor ailments and conditions can be treated at home with advice and remedies from their local pharmacist.
“By visiting a pharmacist, people with a minor ailment will avoid a long wait in A&E, where staff will be dealing with the patients who really need their urgent attention.
“There are also minor injury units at our community hospitals, where people can have their bumps, bruises, smaller cuts and sprains looked after. The minor injury units are open at their normal times during bank holidays.
“In addition, patients who take regular medication should ensure they have enough repeat medicines in stock to last through the holiday period.
“Anyone needing a repeat prescription should contact their practice early so that prescriptions can be ready and patients don’t risk leaving a gap in their treatment.
“But in cases where, for whatever reason, someone is unable to stock up on their medication ahead of the bank holiday, an emergency supply can be obtained from the local pharmacist.
“For anyone uncertain or concerned about their illness, or if they need to consult a doctor out of hours, they can call the confidential NHS 111 helpline, which is free from mobiles and landlines.”
Ahead of the bank holiday, stock up now with the following:
- Pain relief – paracetamol and ibuprofen are the most common painkillers and are available in tablet and liquid form. Aspirin and ibuprofen also reduce inflammation. Please note: aspirin should not be given to anyone under the age of 16.
- Anti-diarrhoea medicine – make sure you drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquid for the first 24 hours when symptoms appear, in order to keep hydrated. Your pharmacist can also recommend rehydration drinks.
- Sore throat remedies – ask your pharmacist about sprays to ease soreness. Adults can also gargle with soluble aspirin to ease pain.
- Cough remedies – ask your pharmacist about different types of linctus which will aid different types of coughs, i.e. dry and tickly or loose.
- Plasters and bandages – it always pays to be well-stocked in the event of minor cuts and scrapes. Ask your pharmacist about anti-allergy plasters.
- Thermometer – this can be useful if someone in the family develops a cold or if a young child becomes ill. As a general rule, a temperature of over 37.5 (99.5F) is a fever.
- Antihistamines – these are useful for allergies and runny noses. Ask your pharmacist about the types available. Some antihistamines cause drowsiness and are not recommended if you are driving or operating machinery.
- Antiseptic cream – this is a medicine cabinet essential in the event or cuts and scrapes, as well as bites and stings.
- Laxatives – constipation can occur at any time. Ask your pharmacist about the types available (tablets or sachets) and which ones are suitable for children or the elderly.
- Children’s medicines – there is a huge variety available to treat a whole range of minor illnesses and conditions. Ask your pharmacist about sugar-free varieties if your child is taking one regularly.
For further health advice, visit the NHS Choices website at www.nhs.uk/asapFollow