Which service do I need?

Choosing the most appropriate service could get you the help you need, faster. And by doing so, you’ll be helping the NHS to work at its best.

The below information will help you make the best choice. However, if you’re still unsure who to ask for help, just call NHS 111, or visit the NHS 111 website. You can also use the NHS look-up tool to locate a GP surgery, dentist, optician, hospital, pharmacy and flu vaccination.


When to self care

You can take care of minor illnesses and injuries like cuts and grazes and upset tummies at home. Keep your medicine cupboard stocked with basics, such as paracetamol, cough and cold remedies and diarrhoea relief. This will help you treat yourself or your family as soon as you need to.


When to visit a pharmacy

A quick trip to the local pharmacy is usually enough to get the treatment needed for most minor illnesses. You may not know it but community pharmacists are qualified to offer expert advice there and then.

Some are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays, and most have private consultation rooms if you would like to discuss things somewhere quieter. And if they think you need to be seen somewhere else they will tell you.

Transcript of Bites and stings: how your local pharmacist can help video

Speaking: Emma Nicholson, West Bergholt Pharmacy

Bites and stings. So there’s many different things that can cause bites and stings. From mosquitoes, bees, wasps, spiders, just to name a few. With the bite, when you first get bitten, the best thing to do is try and remove the bite and sting, wash the area with just soap and water and then apply a cold compress to the area to help take down the reaction and swelling.

Sometimes these can cause red, swollen, painful areas that also become itchy. Most of the time these are only mild and should resolve themselves in a couple of days.
Sometimes, some people, however, can develop a mild allergic reaction that can take slightly longer to cure – around about a week.

We have many different products that can help the symptoms of bites and stings.

So, we have one-a-day antihistamines, but the preferred would be chlorphenamine, which you can take every four to six hours and is better at taking the reaction down.

With chlorphenamine this can sometimes cause drowsiness, however, but it is better at taking down reactions. So if patients can tolerate it, taking that every four to six hours is the best thing.
If drowsiness is a problem, or the patient is driving, for instance, then the one-a-day antihistamines will still give some relief.

If patients would prefer a topical preparation, there is Anthisan, which is a topical antihistamine cream which can be applied to the area.

We also have some other topical preparations. So for very bad bites and stings, hydrocortisone is great at taking down inflammation and the itchiness.

That can be applied twice a day for a few days. We also have Eurax, for instance, which is an anti-itch ingredient and they also formulate Eurax HC, which also has the hydrocortisone in, so with that cream you’re getting two different ingredients to help relieve the itch and the symptoms of the bite.
Sometimes, some bites don’t resolve and patients can get an infection from the bite.

So, if the redness is tracking from the area and the area is not getting smaller, it’s more swollen and maybe bigger than a 10cm square size, getting bigger and moving from the bite site, then it’s worth seeing the doctor or nurse, as you may require antibiotics to resolve the problem.

Also, you do have some insects that can cause other problems, so obviously, mosquitoes, if people have been travelling, you do have a risk of malaria.

And also, from ticks, you can get Lyme disease. With removing ticks, the best way to do that is very carefully. You can use tweezers, or many pharmacies sell a tick removing device. You have to do this very carefully, and also be careful not to squeeze the tick, because that can cause a risk of infection from the ticks.

Transcript of Dehydration: how your local pharmacist can help video

Speaking: Dipul Patel, Hutt Pharmacy, Colchester

Rehydration is one condition that we’re always asked about by our clients especially in the summer months when it’s nice and hot.

The main signs of dehydration would be thirst, darker urine and obviously when you do pass urine the volume is much less than it probably was before.

There are many causes of dehydration – diarrhoea, vomiting, which is very common in adults and children.

Also, the hot conditions don’t help so we spend more time in the sun, which tends to cause dehydration. Certain medicines tend to cause it as well. Coming to a pharmacy for advice is very important so we can tell you whether you can be treated by, say, taking the rehydration sachets or tablets or we could refer you on to a GP for further guidance.

Pharmacists and pharmacies are well placed in the community, in your local areas, to advise you all about your prescribed medicines, medicines you take, and obviously on minor ailments and conditions.

Transcript of Hay fever: how your local pharmacist can help video

Speaking: Nik Shah, West Bergholt Pharmacy

Hay fever is a common allergic reaction that one in five people will suffer from at some point in their lives. It’s a reaction, or an inflammation, of the nose, eyes, throat and possibly the sinuses as a reaction to pollen.

People can suffer from it at different times of the year, depending on what type of pollen they react to. Tree pollen is normally spring time. Grass pollen is late spring and early summer and weed pollen can be in the autumn.

The inflammation causes the quite common symptoms of a runny nose or a stuffy nose, red, irritated eyes, and an itchy throat.

There’s no cure for hay fever, but there are many options that you can use over the counter that may help treat the symptoms.

They can be used on their own or they can be used as a combination of products. The first product would be the antihistamines. They’re available in tablet form and in liquid form. The most common examples are cetirizine, loratadine and azelastine. They can be used as a ‘when needed’ basis if the symptoms are starting, and they may work, or they can be used on a preventative basis, so to prevent the symptoms from starting, on a daily basis.

The newer antihistamines are less likely to cause drowsiness, but patients always have to be wary of that. The second option would be steroids, corticosteroids. They reduce the inflammation in the nasal passages, and hence reduce the symptoms of hay fever. They’re best used a few weeks before the symptoms start, and on a regular basis.

The third option is barrier sprays. They’re drug free and safe to use for adults and children. They form a barrier in the nasal passages, which prevent the pollen from causing any irritation.

People that suffer with itchy eyes can use eye drops. Sodium cromoglicate is the most common ingredient in the eye drops that we sell over the counter.
It’s a mast cell stabiliser – very safe to use, very effective, and quite quick acting.

The last option is some self-help tips. It’s always handy to use something like Haymax, which is a barrier balm, which is used on the inside of the nostrils to prevent the pollen from going into the nostrils and irritating the surfaces. Likewise, using wraparound sunglasses when outside can prevent the pollen from affecting the eyes, and also showering and getting rid of clothes you’ve been outside in can help get rid of the pollen and stop it from entering the nasal passages.

Transcript of Minor burns and scalds: how your local pharmacist can help video

Speaking: Alison Hill, Hutt Pharmacy, Colchester

A pharmacy is an ideal place to come for any health advice and we’re going to be talking about minor burns and scalds. The immediate thing to do is to run the affected area if you can under a cold or lukewarm water and this will help to sort of stop the burning process. You shouldn’t really put anything on it in terms of creams or gels um most minor burns will just heal within a week or so.

Okay the thing to watch out for is for patients who are elderly or young children because their healing process is slightly different so just keep an eye on those kind of patients they may need to be seen by somebody more than the pharmacist. But obviously you can come in and we can assess the burn and give appropriate advice and dressings are available to place over the wound or over the area.

And you’ve got Mepore which is a little dressing and then adhesive around the outside or you’ve got Melolin which needs to be stuck on with something and normally for something like a burn I would recommend just a light bandage okay. And these are both sterile dressings but they will help to keep the area clean and hopefully stop it getting infected.

Obviously sunburns you’re going to need to seek more medical advice going to A&E, things to look out for is if the burn area is larger than your hand, if the wound whether the area that’s been burned is white or the skin appears charred then you need to see somebody at A&E and get that assessed because it’s as a sign that the wound that the area is too big or just too deep to be treated at home.

As I say don’t put anything on it, no gels or anything like that as the wound starts to heal things to look out for, especially if the area is blistered, is to make sure that that doesn’t get infected.

So, signs of an infection would be a raised area, so swelling, red painful, a high temperature of 38 degrees or more, any sort of discharge or a smell from the area would indicate that there’s some kind of infection and the patient would need to see the GP or the nurse for antibiotics and treatment.

If you need advice on minor burns and schools then please do pop into your local pharmacy and have a chat no appointment needed thank you.


When to see your GP team

If you’ve been unwell for more than 48 hours and need medical help, you can book an appointment with a healthcare professional at your GP practice.

When you contact the GP practice, you will be asked a number of questions to help direct you to the healthcare professional best suited for your health care needs.

GP practices provide many ways you can access their services including online consultations, telephone, video and face-to-face appointments.

If you have the NHS app you can use this to access some of the services available from your GP practice.

Seeking help from your GP team

Seeking help from your GP team

Transcript of Seeking help from your GP team video

Hi I’m Nikki Young I’m practice business manager for Abbey Field Medical Centre. You’ve probably noticed the way you access your appointments both in north east Essex and Suffolk has changed in recent times some practices may now offer you a virtual consultation. These will either be via the telephone or over the internet in a confidential one-to-one setting. The benefits of virtual appointments are that they can normally be arranged at a more convenient time and save you the expense and time involved in visiting your GP surgery. When you call your GP the receptionist will ask you what is wrong. This is to help you. The receptionists have been trained to make sure you see the most appropriate clinician and this may not always be a doctor. At GP surgeries now there’s a whole range of well-qualified people. There are social prescribers, there are pharmacists, there are paramedics, there are physiotherapists. These colleagues are also qualified health professionals who can give you expert advice about health related concerns. The receptionist will be trained to book you an appointment with the person most able to help you. On occasion, doctors or any member of the team may telephone you to discuss if any follow-up care is needed. There are now also other services that you can access via your GP surgery to help you if you have concerns which are not necessarily medical. For instance if you are feeling anxious, lonely or isolated, the team at the GP practice might suggest an appointment with a social prescriber or care advisor. These are link workers. They connect people to community groups for practical and emotional support. And lastly, it’s all of our responsibility to look after our own health and this is why there’s a number of areas where you can actually self-refer so you don’t even need to go near your doctor’s surgery. There’s musculoskeletal services, there’s pharmacists and there’s NHS 111. For more information about the services you can access to help you look after your health please access the website on sneewellbeing.org.uk


When to use NHS 111

If you have an urgent medical problem that’s not life-threatening, or you’re not sure what to do, just call NHS 111 first or visit NHS 111 online. Your trained operator will direct you to the service that best meets your needs. If that’s a visit to the emergency department at your local hospital, they will book you a time slot when you’ll be seen.

But there may also be an alternative way of meeting your needs such as arranging an appointment with your GP or visiting a pharmacy. NHS 111 could also help organise an emergency NHS dental appointment.


Mental health crisis?

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 111 and select option 2.


When to go to the Emergency Department (A&E)

If someone is in a life-threatening emergency, call 999. The role of the ambulance service and emergency departments is to treat people who’s lives are at risk.

By carefully considering the best place to seek help for your injury or illness, you will assist the doctors and nurses in the emergency department to concentrate on treating those who need to be there.


Locate a service

Enter your postcode into our “Find services near you” tool shown below to find your nearest NHS service; including GP surgeries, dentists, opticians, hospitals, pharmacies and flu vaccination centres:

Page last modified: 16 September 2022
Next review due: 16 March 2023