Medway residents are being encouraged to get winter ready by stocking up medicine cabinets, ordering repeat prescriptions and visiting their local pharmacist at the first sign of illness.

 

Pharmacists can give free help and advice on many minor illnesses, such as colds or fever, which can be safely treated at home without the need to see a doctor.

Stuart Jeffery, Deputy Managing Director at Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Help us help you by planning ahead this winter to keep you and your family healthy. Pick up any prescription medications that you need before the Christmas holidays start as many GPs and pharmacies will close over the holidays, and make sure to take it with you if you go away.

"It is also important to make sure you have a well-stocked medicine cabinet at home, which should include paracetamol, cold remedies, plasters, tweezers and a thermometer.

“Get advice from your pharmacist at the first sign of feeling ill – don’t wait for it to get more serious. They will be happy to talk to you about a cough or a cold and can sell a range of medication without the need for a prescription.

“If you urgently need medical care when your GP practice is closed, and the pharmacy can’t help, please ring NHS 111 for advice. They can arrange for you to see an out-of-hours GP service if necessary.”

If patients are unwell and not able to access their GP surgery over the Christmas and New Year period, there are many other options.

Speak to a pharmacist
Your local pharmacy is a good place to start if you have a minor ailment such as a headache, cough or sore throat. Pharmacists are medically trained and can give you expert advice on medicines and how they work, as well as help you decide whether you need to see a doctor. A list of pharmacy opening hours can be found here.

Call 111
Trained call handlers will assess your symptoms, offer advice and if necessary, put you directly in touch with the people who can help; for example, an out-of-hours doctor, a district nurse or an emergency dentist – or it may be something as simple as a 24-hour pharmacy.

Health Help Now
The free Health Help Now website and app enables you to check your symptoms and search for local health services in Kent and Medway. As well as recommending options for treatment, it provides opening hours of pharmacies and walk-in centres, and provides maps and directions.

Visit www.kent.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk or the app store on your device. Further healthcare advice is also available at www.nhs.uk/staywell.

Other helplines

Kent Mental Health Matters support line (08001 070160) is open all hours.

Samaritans provides confidential support for anyone feeling down, depressed or anxious, as well as those who may be feeling despair. Volunteers can be contacted 24/7 on 116 123 (UK), or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or face-to-face; visit www.samaritans.org for details of your local branch.