Could you ask your pharmacist instead?

By on 26/11/2012 in News

The NHS in Birmingham and Solihull is encouraging people to consider their local pharmacy when they have minor winter ailments.

People often turn up at hospitals with minor illnesses and injuries that could often be better treated more quickly elsewhere, or at home.

Your local pharmacist can offer you free, qualified health advice at any time, and no appointment is necessary.

Pharmacists don't just provide prescriptions and sell plasters and painkillers. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses and answer questions about prescribed and over the counter medicines.

All year round, pharmacists can also advise on healthy eating, obesity and giving up smoking and almost all have private areas where you can talk in confidence.

All pharmacists in the UK have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and have worked for at least a year under the supervision of an experienced and qualified pharmacist, either in a hospital or community pharmacy (local chemist's shop).

Dr Adrian Phillips, Birmingham's Director of Public Health, said: “It’s not surprising that people tend to think of their GP first when they have a minor illness, but many winter health problems don't require medical treatment.

“If you have a cold, flu, stomach bug, or a minor strain or sprain, often the best treatment is to rest at home. Treatment available from your local pharmacist could help relieve the symptoms so you're back at your best as soon as possible.

“Pharmacists are highly qualified to provide health advice to help people with minor illnesses and injuries care for themselves.”

Services offered by pharmacists can include:

  • Advice on treating minor illnesses and injuries, such as colds and flu, stomach bugs and minor cuts, grazes and sprains
  • Paid-for flu jabs for those who aren't eligible for a free flu jab on the NHS
  • Medicines Use Reviews
  • needle exchange and supervised drug administration
  • pregnancy testing
  • stop smoking services
  • emergency contraception
  • New Medicine Service
  • chlamydia screening and treatment
  • weight management

Some pharmacists also offer out of hours services.

If it's not an emergency, please don't go to A&E or ring 999. Help the NHS during these busy times by making sure you 'choose well' and consider using other parts of the NHS, such as a pharmacist, your GP, or NHS Direct at or on 0845 4647. If you need urgent treatment, consider using a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

Click here to find your local pharmacy


Media Enquiries:

For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Joanna Kail at NHS Birmingham and Solihull on 0121 255 0725 or email

Notes to editors:

  1. Make sure you read the leaflets for any medications beforehand.
  2. If you are already taking other medication, check first with your pharmacist to make sure the medicines are right for you.
  3. Bear in mind that many cold and flu medications contain painkillers such as paracetamol, and should not be taken in conjunction with some other treatments.

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