People in east Kent are being encouraged to use a pharmacy or phone NHS 111 if they feel ill.
Local pharmacies can offer a wealth of health support and should be the first port of call for common illnesses such as coughs and colds.
The NHS 111 phone service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A fully trained adviser will answer your call and help you find the right service or give advice about how to look after yourself.
Dr Navin Kumta, chair of NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “At this time of year, many people get colds and flu and visit their GP when in reality a quick trip to the pharmacy is what they need.
“Pharmacists can give advice and guidance about common problems such as headaches, coughs, colds and tummy bugs and you don’t need an appointment. They can also advise people about buying over-the-counter medicine and give advice on prescribed medication.
“The best treatment for a cold is to drink fluids, take paracetamol and rest. Antibiotics don’t work against viral infections such as colds and will not be prescribed by your doctor.”
The message comes as the recent cold weather has added additional strain on the NHS.
Dr Kumta added: “If you urgently need medical care when your GP practice is closed, and the pharmacy can’t help, please ring NHS 111 for advice.”
To find your nearest pharmacist, see www.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk. The Health Help Now web app is free to use and has been developed by local GPs and health professionals to help people in Kent find out about local health services. It can also be downloaded via the App Store and Google Play.