A CHEMISTS’ campaign to relieve pressure on the NHS by making pharmacies a patient’s first stop has been backed by Thurrock GPs.

Asset Chemist of Dock Road, Tilbury, has joined the Ask Your Pharmacist campaign urging people to consult their local pharmacist before adding to the queues at GPs’ surgeries and accident and emergency departments.

It follows chaos caused at Basildon in March after the hospital recorded its highest ever A&E admissions and operations even had to be cancelled at Southend in March after an extra 60-70 patients turned up each day for three days.

Dr Anand Deshpande, chairman of Thurrock’s Clinical Commissioning Group of GPs, said surgeries were just as pressed and people should consider going to their pharmacist first for minor ailments.

He said: “Not many people are aware of the financial impact that their choices make but a missed GP appointment costs the NHS £25 and a visit to A&E can cost the NHS anything from £59 to £117.

“We encourage people to use A&E only in an emergency and people should think carefully about the different health services that are available and choose the right one for their symptoms.

“We also ask that people consider the implications of not attending their GP appointments as we are still recording high levels of Do Not Attends, where people do not show up for their appointment, every month.”

Asset pharmacist Yorni Adenaike added: “We want to help locals manage their health effectively so when they feel under the weather we’re asking people to visit their local pharmacy as a first port of call.

“With no appointment necessary this can be a convenient source of help for parents who are looking for speedy reassurance and support for their little ones.

“We are also open 100 hours a week to make it as easy as possible for people to fit in a visit.”