With Devon’s NHS facing a predicted hectic time ahead of the festivities and into the New Year, pharmacies are the place to go for many of your winter woes.
GP practices and A&E departments are often under even more pressure at this time of year, but pharmacies can take the strain from people with aches and pains, sore throat, coughs, colds, flu, earache and skin rashes.
Pharmacies are open until late and at weekends, so people don’t need an appointment, and most pharmacies have a confidential consulting area.
David Bearman, chair of the Devon Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “Pharmacies should be the first port of call for anyone who has concerns about their health and isn’t quite sure if they need to see a GP.
“We can assist them to ensure they make the right decision about the treatment they receive.
“At a time of year when coughs, colds and sore throats are everywhere, pharmacies can help people with the symptoms or refer them as appropriate.
“Pharmacists are trained in using medicines safely, so we can offer advice on how to take your medicines.
“We can also advise on the safe use of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines, as well as whether you need to see a GP.”
With the flu virus already spreading across Devon, it’s not too late for people to get their jab, whether at their GP practice or pharmacy.
Mr Bearman added: “It’s really important that people do get the flu vaccination, particularly if they have a long-term condition such as a respiratory illness.
“The vaccination for these patients is free because they are more likely to have serious consequences as a result of flu.
“But of course anyone who has the vaccination isn’t just helping themselves – they are protecting those around them.
“In addition, flu puts a considerable strain on the health system, so the fewer people who get the flu, the better able the health system is to deal with people who have other serious needs.”
To find your nearest pharmacy and check its opening times, go online at www.nhs.uk or call the free helpline NHS 111.Follow