It’s Self Care Week, which means it’s a great time to remind yourself about conditions and medicines that can be sorted at your local pharmacy, without having to see your doctor. NHS England have published a list of the sort of conditions that can easily be treated with medicine available from a pharmacy without prescription, so be sure to check it out.

We spoke to Emma, a Senior Pharmacy Technician, about her top tips for self-care as we head towards winter.

“Treating yourself at home with help from your pharmacy is a great way to save valuable NHS resources for when they’re really needed. That includes freeing up GPs to see people who are more vulnerable or who have conditions that can’t be treated at home.

“A lot of what we go to the doctor about we can treat ourselves, such as sore throats, coughs, colds and minor skin conditions.  (especially with a little help from our local pharmacy team). But wait, this sounds like it’s going to be expensive… It isn’t! Medicine the GP will prescribe for these sorts of conditions is exactly the same as the sort you can buy over the counter, often very cheaply and saving you time. If you pay for prescriptions, a prescription charge is £8.80, whereas most of the medication you need will be less!

“We can buy the medication, sure, but what if we don’t know how to take it – that is what our local pharmacy teams are for. We can always pop in to a pharmacy and their qualified team will make sure that we have the right medication for our needs. The great thing about pharmacies is that lots of them are open late or at the weekend, so we can get help and advice at a time that is convenient for us.  Also, just a heads up – there are different types of medication that you can buy. Some can be bought anywhere (like a supermarket) but some need to be bought from a pharmacy. If you are going to buy a ‘pharmacy’ medication, you’ll be asked some questions by the team to make sure it is safe for you.  Don’t worry though, a lot of pharmacies have confidential rooms where you can speak to a someone in private.

“Baby it’s cold outside – are you prepared for winter? I am – I’ve got my knitwear, filled the car up with de-icer AND I’ve stocked up my medicines cabinet with over-the-counter remedies for cold and flu. By having all the medicines in already, I know that when a sore throat strikes I can stay at home, take the medication I need to ease my symptoms and catch up on the latest box set (that always seems to help!).

“Not sure what you need? Visit your local pharmacy team and let them help you to help yourself.  Next time you’re feeling unwell, ask yourself: ‘Do I need to see the GP, or can I pop to my local pharmacy?'”

Visit our winter page for more tips on staying well this season, and check out our service guide so you know where to go if you do get ill. For more tips on making the best choices about your health and wellbeing, visit the NHS site’s Live Well page.