Feeling under the weather this winter?

How many times have you been to see your local pharmacist for health advice or information? I should think that most people can count the number of times on one hand.

Often people don’t seek advice for minor illnesses because they don’t think it’s serious enough, or they don’t want to waste their pharmacist’s or doctor’s time, especially those who are over 60. But no problem is too small for your local pharmacist who is a highly trained and trusted source of health advice. Pharmacists offer many more services than people realise, are more readily available and tend to be open at more convenient times too.

This year I’m strongly encouraging older people in particular to use their local pharmacy more this winter if they’re suffering with a bad cough, trouble breathing, a cold or a sore throat. I’d much rather they sought early advice from a pharmacist before leaving it to escalate quickly into something more serious, which could lead to a stay in hospital that could have been prevented.

As well as offering expert health advice, pharmacists have a range of over-the-counter medicines that can help; it’s also important to tell them what other medication you’re taking and if you have any other health conditions.

NHS services are evolving as people’s needs are changing so it’s not always necessary to see a doctor. We’re all living longer and more of us have complex health needs so doctors are spending more time caring for people who have conditions like diabetes or lung disease - pharmacists are there to offer expert health advice for minor illnesses when you need it.

If you’re a carer or have elderly friends or relatives I’m calling on you to help spread the message to older people you know and help them to visit the pharmacist. No appointment is needed and many have private consultation areas, so they are a good first port of call.

No-one wants to spend time in hospital so if you’re over 60, or know someone who is that’s suffering with a bad cough, trouble breathing, a cold or a sore throat then please visit your pharmacist for early advice.

Dr Thomas Maliyil from Scartho Medical Practice and Deputy Vice Chair of Council of Members for North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning

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