By Ria Taylor
With temperatures dropping, the NHS is asking patients to choose the correct service should they fall ill.
An overstretched Winter NHS is urging people to only use certain services in cases of genuine need.
The NHS is urging the public to ‘self care’ as the weather gets colder as well as choosing the right service for their needs.
Melanie Swain, the Pharmacy Dispensary Manager at Peterborough City Hospital said: “People feel this unnecessary need to go to the doctors in the winter. But it is much easier to catch colds and feel unwell during the winter months, as there are more bugs around.”
“People fall ill and seem to panic,” said Ms Swain. “They turn to their GP too readily rather than considering other options, such as consulting a pharmacist or calling 111 for advice.”
“I don’t think enough people make full use of the services that the pharmacy offer, and they don’t realise how well qualified the pharmacist is,” she said, “There’s a structured framework that the pharmacy have to follow in order to make suggestions. We ask the right questions to get to the root of the situation, before offering medication or referring patients to a GP.”
Julie Anderson, a mum of three from Leeds, said she always tries to ‘self care’ at home first for her family, as she sometimes struggles to get an appointment to see a GP.
“Our local surgery is quite small, so it’s not always easy to get an appointment, especially for coughs, colds and things like conjunctivitis,” she said, “That’s why I tend to keep my medicine cabinet well stocked with essentials for my children when they are unwell.”
Figures from a response to a written parliamentary question tabled by Labour MP Grahame Morris show that last year, £70 million was spent prescribing paracetamol to patients, even though it is available over the counter for a fraction of the price.
“Paracetamol is a basic commodity, and I prescribe paracetamol products every single day,” said Ms Swain. “This puts pressure on the system, and creates huge costs which could be avoided.”
“If we want to save and protect our NHS, we all have to do our bit to help.”