Sore throat, cough, cold or minor illness? See your local pharmacist first

People in Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES), Swindon and Wiltshire suffering from minor illnesses including sore throats, coughs, colds, tummy troubles and aches and pains are being urged to seek help from their local pharmacist in the first instance rather than booking an appointment with their GP or visiting their local A&E department.

The advice is part of a new NHS 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.

The campaign follows research which shows 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 B&NES, 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.”

AWP Chief Executive announces retirement

Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) NHS Trust’s Chief Executive, Dr Hayley Richards has announced that she is set to retire from the NHS at the end of May 2019, following a long and successful career.

Dr Hayley Richards has been part of the NHS for 33 years and for the last 13 years has served AWP as a Consultant Psychiatrist, Director of Medical Education, Medical Director and Chief Executive.

Dr Richards said:

“It has been an absolute privilege to be part of AWP over the last 13 years and I am extremely proud of the work we have achieved.

“When I started as Chief Executive in 2016 some of my main aims were to help us re-establish the confidence we deserved to have in the services we provide, to increase clinical leaders, to have senior managers and frontline staff work together more closely and to improve quality. There have been many challenges along the way, of course, mainly around funding and service demand, and these will continue in the coming years.

“I leave the NHS at a time of great challenge and opportunity and I will watch with hope and optimism that true parity of esteem is achieved for mental health service users.”

AWP's Chair, Charlotte Hitchings, said:

“I would like to express my personal appreciation and thanks to Hayley for her commitment, passion and drive to AWP and mental health. Thanks to Hayley’s leadership we are in a good position to take on the challenges that lie ahead and build on productive relationships with our partners to deliver excellent mental healthcare that puts our service users, carers and families at the heart.”

Dr Richards qualified in medicine at the University of Bristol in 1986. She became a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 1990 and a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 1993, achieving dual accreditation in General and Old Age Psychiatry.

She joined AWP in 2006 as a Consultant Psychiatrist, became Medical Director in 2013 and was appointed Chief Executive in 2016.

AWP’s Board will publish their intention regarding recruitment of a new Chief Executive in due course but are keen to initiate recruitment as soon as possible.