26 Mar 2018

The Easter bank holiday weekend is just around the corner, and the weather forecast is hinting that there may be some settled weather to enjoy. Patients can save time in the waiting room by visiting their pharmacist for quick, confidential advice on a range of common illnesses.

The NHS in St Helens is reminding the local community that they are the go-to service for help with common illnesses like coughs and sore throats, and minor ailments such as stings and insect bites.

Dr Hilary Flett, GP, said, “Your local pharmacy can help you with more than you might think. There’s no appointment necessary when you visit your local pharmacist and they can give professional, confidential medical advice straight away. As most GP surgeries will be closed on Friday and Monday, we would like to encourage patients to order any medication they need in plenty of time so they have a good supply during the bank holiday.”

Nicola Cartwright, Head of Medicines Management, NHS St Helens CCG said “Pharmacies can also provide a wide range of over-the-counter treatments. And if you don’t pay prescription charges, you may be able to receive them free through the Care at the Chemist minor ailments service”

There are also steps that everyone can take to treat their own symptoms and get better quickly. You can:

Know where to get healthcare advice

If it’s not an emergency but you’d like medical advice, visit your local pharmacist or call the NHS111 service. It’s free, open 24/7 and staffed by fully trained nurses and paramedics. They’ll give you healthcare advice and direct you to the right local service if you need any further help.

Take the right treatment for your condition

Don’t assume that antibiotics are your best option. Coughs and colds are viruses and antibiotics can’t help with these. Over the counter remedies will make you feel better while the virus runs its course naturally over a few days.

Know what to expect

If you’re caring for yourself, it's worth knowing how long you might feel unwell for. Sore throats and stomach bugs (diarrhoea) take around a week to clear up, common colds can continue for about 10 days and coughs or bronchitis can last for up to 21 days. If you’re unsure what to do or your symptoms are getting worse, call NHS 111 or see your pharmacist.

As well as NHS 111 and your local pharmacist, you can find health advice on the NHS Choices website - www.nhs.uk.  

Pharmacy opening hours in St Helens over the Easter bank holiday can be found here.