General advice for winter

Your local pharmacist can help

Pharmacists are experts in the use of medicines and are able to diagnose and offer treatment for a range of minor illnesses and ailments immediately, without the need to make an appointment. They are open long hours, at weekends and evenings and can be found on the local high street and in supermarkets.

Pharmacists can give advice, or where appropriate, medicines that can help to clear up the problem and offer a range of branded or non-branded medicines. If you have any questions about any medicines, they would be happy to talk to you.
Instead of booking an appointment with your GP, you can see your local pharmacist any time by just walking in.

Make sure you order your repeat prescription

If you or someone you care for requires medicines regularly, make sure you order and collect repeat prescriptions in good time to ensure you or your family have enough medicine to last over the festive period. Many of the calls to out of hours health services are for emergency repeat prescriptions when people have run out of their medication – a situation that could be avoided with some forethought and planning. By thinking ahead about your regular medication you are helping our busy out of hours doctors and nurses.

Know when your GP surgery will be open

Your local GP practice will be closed over the festive period and may also offer limited appointments around Christmas and New Year. If you need to see a GP when the practice is closed, contact the NHS 111 service.

Antibiotics aren’t always the answer

Antibiotics can save lives. Using them wisely is the only way to preserve their strength for future bacterial illnesses.

Many winter illnesses such as colds, sore throats and flu are caused by viruses which won’t respond to antibiotics. Antibiotics only fight infections caused by bacteria.

Bacteria can adapt and find ways to survive the effects of an antibiotic. They become ‘antibiotic resistant’ so that antibiotics no longer work. The more an antibiotic is used the more resistant bacteria become to it.

Antibiotics can have side effects as they upset the natural balance of bacteria in your body and this allows other more harmful bacteria to increase. Common symptoms can result in diarrhoea and/or thrush.

It’s important that we use antibiotics the right way, to slow down resistance and make sure these life-saving medicines remain effective for us and future generations.
Antibiotics aren’t always the answer. Take rest and paracetamol and drink plenty of fluids instead.