PATIENTS with minor winter ailments are being urged not to pester their busy GP or A&E.

People experiencing seasonal coughs, colds and flu should instead visit their local pharmacist for health advice or over the counter remedies.

As well as relieving pressure on the NHS, it will also be the quickest way of getting treatment.

Pharmacists can help with clinical advice for minor health concerns such as coughs, colds, tummy troubles and aches and pains.

Pharmacies don’t just dispense medicines - they offer a wide range of advice and support in a range of issues, including helping people to quit smoking, cutting down on alcohol, providing advice on safe sex and emergency contraception, and on maintaining good health.

Help and advice is available at convenient hours without making an appointment. You can talk to your pharmacist confidentially without being noted in medical records, which some people may prefer.

Dr Ed Ford, chairman of Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "This winter family doctors are seeing many more people with symptoms of coughs, colds or flu, but in many cases they could have helped themselves with some quick advice from a community pharmacist or a few low cost, over the counter remedies."

Dr Ford added that details of your nearest pharmacist or what health service or treatment you need are available at or phone NHS 111. The service is free to call and available 24 hours a day.

The Pharmacy Advice campaign is part of NHS England’s Help Us Help You winter initiative.

Meanwhile, people are being advised to be prepared for winter with over the counter remedies for cold symptoms.

As well as paracetamol and ibuprofen based cold remedies, a range of medicines are available over the counter.

They may relieve a sore throat, treat the cough and help your blocked nose. Your pharmacist can advise you on what treatment is best for you and your family.

Contact your family doctor if you think you have flu and you have a serious underlying illness, you are pregnant, you have a sick child under one year old, your condition suddenly gets much worse or your condition is still getting worse after seven days or five days for a child.

If your symptoms become worse and you need urgent health advice, phone NHS 111 or check

For more information about helping you and your family stay well this winter go to