People in Swindon, Bath and North East Somerset and other parts of Wiltshire who are suffering from minor illnesses such as sore throats, coughs, colds and tummy troubles are being advised to seek help from their local pharmacist rather than booking an appointment with their GP or visiting the Emergency Department.

The advice is part of a new campaign to encourage the public - and particularly parents with young children - to visit a local pharmacy as their first choice for help with common minor health concerns.

It comes after research showed that 27 per cent of GP appointments could potentially be treated elsewhere and that 18 per cent of these appointments could be treated through self-care and community pharmacists.

Andrew Hobson, Pharmacy Manager at Cohens Chemist in Royal Wootton Bassett and Vice Chair of Community Pharmacy Swindon and Wiltshire, said: “Every year, millions of people visit their GP with minor health problems that a local pharmacy could easily help with.

"By visiting your pharmacy instead of your GP about a minor illness, you could save yourself time. Seeing a pharmacist will also free up appointments for your GP to see other patients.

Pharmacists can help recognise and treat many common illnesses.

"We can give advice and, where appropriate, recommend over-the-counter medicines that could help clear up the problem.

"We can also give advice about how to take medicines and answer questions about common side-effects.

"If we think you need to see a GP for your illness, we will advise you to do that.”

Richard Brown, Chief Officer of Avon Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “There is a strong network of local pharmacists across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire.

"They are often open late and at weekends, can see people without an appointment and their highly trained staff can offer quick and effective treatment and good advice about many common conditions.

"For minor health concerns such as coughs and colds, don’t wait until it gets worse, ask your pharmacist first.”

Click here to find details of the various healthcare services available in Swindon and the surrounding areas.