In fact, local NHS leaders believe that even simple changes such as buying paracetamol over the counter instead of through a prescription could save thousands of pounds.
Dr David Egan, a local GP and a Suffolk clinical commissioning group member, said there were a number of things that the public could do to help, and a campaign to persuade patients to buy their own paracetamol over the counter had saved around £200,000 in the east Suffolk area alone.
He said that things people can do to try and help the health system included ensuring that they have medication in their own home to look after simple coughs and colds.
Patients could also help ease the pressure on GP and out-of-hours services by firstly seeking advice from their local pharmacist.
“Pharmacists can contact their local GPs to discuss patients or medication matters with them, and they can help with many of the queries that patients may have,” he said. “It’s estimated that 10% of a GP’s time may be taken up dealing with medication matters, that could be dealt with by a pharmacist.”
Anne King regularly uses her pharmacy to buy medicines over the counter and seek advice for herself, husband Stephen, and daughter Hannah. She said: “We prefer to use the pharmacist because I don’t have to make an appointment. When I go to the doctor’s it’s a long trip to get there, and the doctors are often busy.”
Paul Heeks, pharmacist at Station Pharmacy, a Healthy Living Pharmacy in Elmswell near Bury St Edmunds, said he was seeing more people making use of pharmacy services. “GP practices are often clogged up dealing with minor ailments. Those kinds of things don’t need the doctor, they can be treated quite nicely over the counter,” he said.
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Shorter version (1 minute, 37 seconds) - HERE
Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG have also recently produced a leaflet for patients about treating minor conditions and visiting your local pharmacy HERE.
Need to know where your local pharmacy is? Visit: www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Pharmacy
For a map of pharmacies close to Ipswich Hospital, download this handy postcard