ANYONE who has picked up a bug over the Christmas and New Year celebrations is being encouraged to avoid a trip to A&E and talk to their pharmacist instead.

Pharmacists can help people treat many common conditions and, with the festive season always busy for emergency departments, residents are being advised to take advantage of their advice first.

Jane Freeguard, Head of Medicines Commissioning for the three Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “Many people don’t realise the wide range of services that are available at their local pharmacy.

"They offer free expert advice on a wide range of health issues, support for self-care and medicines to treat common complaints such as coughs and colds, flu, sore throats, earache, backache, stomach upsets and cuts and grazes.

“Pharmacists are highly trained to offer help and support to patients and they’re available without the need to book an appointment.”

Many pharmacies offer seven-day opening (including New Year’s Day) and late hours.

For opening times on New Year’s Day, visit