Winter advice if you're under the weather

Who can you turn to for immediate help or advice from a qualified health professional who is an expert in medicines, without an appointment?  Your high street pharmacist, of course.

Everyone is familiar with going to the pharmacy for a prescription, painkillers or plasters, but with five years of training in the use of medicines, pharmacists are highly qualified experts who play a vital role in the NHS. They can offer advice on a wide range of health problems.

Nip it in the bud

If you feel poorly or have a cold, cough or other common ailment such as a tummy bug, flu or sore throat, see a local pharmacist right away before you start to feel worse. Pharmacists have the right training to know when to tell you to see a GP if they think you need to.

And with NHS services under intense pressure this winter, the great thing about a pharmacy is that you don’t need an appointment to get advice from qualified staff.

If you call 111 for urgent medical help, you could be referred to a pharmacist if your condition is not serious enough to need hospital or a doctor. It means you get immediate access to the right clinical advice and medication if you need it.

Pharmacists can explain how to safely take medicines such as an asthma inhaler. They can also do a medication review for people who have long term repeat prescriptions. And they can give extra help if you're starting on new medicine for: asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); type 2 diabetes; high blood pressure or have a new blood-thinning medicine.

Most pharmacies have a consultation room, so patients can discuss health matters in private just as they would with their GP. They also offer a whole range of other services such as: travel vaccinations; emergency contraception; help to stop smoking; and blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing.

With extended opening hours at evenings and weekends, pharmacies should be the first port of call if you need convenient, quick, professional health advice this winter. To find your nearest pharmacy visit

If you feel unwell and aren't sure what to do you can call NHS 111 or go online at for immediate medical advice. Trained experts will tell you what you need to do and can book you an appointment with a doctor if you need one. 



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