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Pharmacists first - Medics say use chemists for Christmas cures to avoid hospital queues

Medicines from the chemist might cure Christmas ailments. Photo: Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Health chiefs are urging people to visit chemists for minor illnesses over Christmas instead of blocking up A&E departments.

The message comes from medics at the NHS Vale of York group, who have produced a series of advice videos showing how to treat common winter ailments.

They say that although most GPs surgeries will be closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day, some pharmacies will be open to offer medication. People can also ring the NHS 111 advice line.

Dr Kevin Smith, from NHS Vale of York Group, said: "Time at home can often bring coughs, colds and rashes. Pharmacists across the Vale of York have trained for at least five years and can offer expert advice on these winter illnesses."

Dr Kevin Smith - NHS Vale of York Group Credit: NHS Vale of York Group

He added: "While pharmacists can help with less serious health concerns, the NHS 111 phone or online service is there if you require urgent medical help or advice for a non-life-threatening condition."

The NHS non-emergency number 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, or it can be contacted at www.111.nhs.uk

But people are still being urged to call 999 in the event of medical emergencies such as breathing difficulties, chest pains or if they have been involved in a serious accident.