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Pharmacies on hand to help this winter

The over 65s and people with long-term conditions are being encouraged to Stay Well this Winter by taking advantage of free flu jabs and keeping in touch with their local pharmacy if they feel poorly.

Twenty one million people are eligible for the free vaccination but barely two-in-five have taken advantage of it, says NHS England

The flu vaccination programme is an important part of the NHS's winter resilience plan with hospitals already dealing with a high volume of demand.

Pharmacies should remain the first port of call for most patients this winter and offer advice and support with no need for a prior appointment.  They can effectively treat a range of minor ailments that people normally see their GP about.

Dr Marc Rowland, local GP and chair of NHS Lewisham CCG said: "GPs are always here to help, but pharmacies are more than capable of advising you and treating the majority of conditions GPs deal with.

"If your pharmacist does think you could have anything more serious wrong, they will automatically refer you on to to the right place.

"The NHS is under a lot of pressure, especially at the moment and we need to effectively spread the work load so all patients are treated quickly and efficiently with the resources available. You can find out your local pharmacy opening times by visiting  

If you aren't sure where to go to get treated, ring NHS 111. The 24/7 service will advise you where to go which could be the GP out-of-hours service where you can see a doctor in the evenings and at weekends if you can't get an appointment with your own GP.

NHS Choices also offers a wealth of advice about minor illnesses that people can self-manage. Households are recommended to have a supply of the following:

  • Pain killers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen

  • Antihistamine for allergies

  • Bandages

  • Oral rehydration salts

  • Indigestion remedies

  • Laxatives

  • Anti-diarrhoea medicine

  • Cream or spray for insect bites

  • Bandages, dressings and plasters.

Please remember if you are feeling unwell, use the right service.