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Looking after your own health at home, or visiting your local pharmacy, could save you time and an unnecessary visit to your GP this winter.

Winter is the busiest time of year for the NHS, which puts pressure on GPs and hospitals, but many common winter illnesses can be treated at home with over the counter products and rest.

That's why this Self Care Week, which runs from 13-19 November 2017, doctors are encouraging residents to take steps to stay healthy, as well as to know how to treat minor ailments and seek the right help when it's needed.

Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

"As local GPs, we want to support you to look after your own health. Taking some simple steps, such as keeping fit, eating and sleeping well, reducing your alcohol intake and stopping smoking can help you fight off common winter bugs.

"It's always useful to keep your medicines cabinet well stocked, so you have a first aid kit available to deal with any minor illnesses or injuries, particularly if you have young children.

"You should also consider having the flu jab every year. If you're not eligible for a free NHS vaccination, you can arrange one for a small charge at many local pharmacies."

If you do need advice from a health professional, try speaking to your local pharmacist, who can offer advice about many common ailments including coughs and colds as well as minor injuries. It's important to remember that most coughs, sore throats and stomach upsets do not require antibiotics and can be managed with over the counter medicines from pharmacies.

Pharmacists are also qualified to give you advice on how to quit smoking, and many can administer the flu vaccination.

NHS 111 can also offer advice and direct you to the right service for your condition. It is free to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is staffed by trained advisors and experienced clinicians.

Following these steps could save you time and an unnecessary trip to your GP over the busy winter period.

Self care can also help to reduce the pressure on local health services and free up A&E and much needed GP appointments for those that really need them.

Dr Wright added: "The best way to tackle ill health is to avoid it in the first place. Just making small changes to your lifestyle, such as by staying active or making healthy food choices, can make a big difference to your future health."

The NHS Choices website, www.nhs.uk, has more information available on things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing. You can also search for your nearest pharmacy and the services they offer.