The chair of the BMA general practitioners committee said that large numbers of patients continue to go to casualty and see GPs with simple common conditions such as a sore throats, colds and coughs or flu.
Speaking to ITV News in response to the upcoming launch of an NHS campaign to encourage people who are ill to seek early advice, Dr Chaand Nagpaul said most of these conditions can be effectively treated through remedies available from the local pharmacist.
"There's no doubt that hospital casualty departments and GP surgeries are both overstretched," he said. "Its important that patients can make use of services in the community such as the pharmacist or from the 111 service. That's what we would want patients to do in the first instance."
More top news
UK banks are in 'advanced talks' over moving to France when Britain leaves the EU, the head of the French financial regulator has said
Rescue workers resume the search for survivors after a 6.5 quake struck the north-east of Sumatra killing more than 100.
Rain will clear in the north later today as temperatures in the south look set to hit up to 14 or 15 Celsius (57 or 59 F).