• Can't get to your GP surgery this Easter? A local pharmacy may be able to help

    Patients who suffer from minor ailments such as coughs and colds are being asked to visit their local pharmacy this Easter.
    With most GP practices closed on Friday, April 3, and not reopening until Tuesday, April 7, community pharmacies could prove a vital place for patients to go to get advice and treatment for minor ailments.
    Pharmacists are able to offer quick, early advice to patients who feel under the weather and can now provide some medicines usually only available on prescription, saving a trip to the doctor.
    Some pharmacies also offer an emergency service for people who need repeat prescriptions when their surgery is closed. Patients are advised to phone ahead to check if their local pharmacy is able to offer this service.
    The more patients visit a pharmacy for advice and treatment on minor ailments, the more time doctors will be able to spend with those who have more serious conditions.
    Local pharmacists are a highly trained and trusted source of health advice and can provide help to people who have a bad cough, trouble breathing, a cold or sore throat.
    They can also help people to manage their long term conditions and enable them to get the best from their medicines. Many pharmacies have longer opening hours than GP practices, particularly over the Easter bank holidays.
    Oksana Riley, a community pharmacy development lead for Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This is a very exciting development that will greatly improve patients’ access to services at a pharmacy that they may have previously only been able to get from their doctor.
    “Community pharmacies are highly accessible, located in the heart of communities where people live, work and shop and offering expert advice and treatment. You don’t need an appointment to see your pharmacist and many pharmacies are open in the evenings and at weekends.
    “Advice from your community pharmacist is always free. Pharmacists are highly-qualified health professionals and are experts in the use of medicines and they will advise if your condition needs to be seen by another health professional such as a GP.”
    If you find you need treatment over the Easter period, NEW Devon CCG has issued some tips to help people choose the right NHS service:

    • Try your family or self-care - for minor illnesses, combine medicines for coughs, colds or flu with plenty of rest.
    • Pharmacies - pharmacists are trained to help people with minor illnesses and can advise on medicine that can be bought over the counter. You can check your nearest pharmacy’s opening times over the Easter weekend here: www.nhs.uk.
    • NHS 111 – for non-emergency health needs, 24 hours a day, as well as help to find services. Go to www.nhs.uk or call 111.
    • NHS minor injuries unit (MIU) - for treatment of minor illnesses or injuries, without an appointment. For details of your nearest MIU, go to www.nhs.uk.
    • Most GP surgeries are closed from Good Friday [April 3] until Monday, April 6, and will reopen on Tuesday, April 7. Check with your GP practice for their opening times.
    • Hospital emergency departments or 999 – please only attend hospital emergency departments if you have an immediate and serious problem that cannot be dealt with by the other services. 999 is only for critical or life-threatening situations.

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