PARENTS who have children with minor ailments in York and North Yorkshire are being urged to think pharmacy first before heading to the GP.

Stay Well Pharmacy is a new campaign from NHS England which encourages people, especially parents and carers of children aged under five, to visit their local pharmacy first for clinical advice for minor health concerns.

Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals who can provide many of the same services that GPs do, but on a walk-in basis, meaning you don’t need to book an appointment to see them.

They can offer treatments and free advice on common illnesses and ailments, including: colds, flu, coughs, sore throats, runny noses, upset stomach, ear infections, diarrhoea, back pain and minor rash.

They can also answer questions you might have about any medication you’re taking and, if they can't help, they'll let you know whether or not you need to see a doctor or where else you could get the best treatment.

The majority of pharmacies have private consultations rooms to enable confidential conversations between the patient and pharmacist.

Shaun O’Connell, local GP and Joint Medical Director at NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Every pharmacist is trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice, so they are the right person to see for minor health concerns.

“Local pharmacies can offer fast and convenient clinical advice for a wide range of minor health concerns, with no appointment needed. Furthermore, they’re open on evenings and weekends, often when your local GP surgery might not be.

“Using pharmacies helps to take the pressure off A&E departments, freeing up staff for real emergencies.”

Cllr Carol Runciman, chairman of York's Health and Wellbeing Board, said: "Winter is a difficult time of year, particularly for vulnerable people, and a busy time for health services across the city.

“Pharmacists across the city can offer expert advice to residents of all ages to help them stay well this winter and avoid the need for a visit to the GP."

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