WHILE we may still be celebrating the festive season, the health services is advicding people to make sure they stay well-stocked with medicine cabinet essentials to save them from making unnecessary trips to the doctor's.

Over the festive season, many people turn up at hospitals with everyday illnesses, and minor injuries which can easily be treated elsewhere, or at home.

NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Cluster Medical Director Dr Geoff Payne said "By being prepared for winter and stocking up on medicine cabinet essentials, a lot of people could treat minor illnesses at home, avoiding unnecessary trips to the doctor."

Local pharmacists can provide you with free, qualified health advice at any time, and no appointment is necessary. Next time you are out restocking your shelves for the festive season, the health services suggest you stock up on:

• Your usual painkillers, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin

• Cold and flu remedies

• Anti-diarrhoea medicine

• Oral rehydration salts

• Indigestion remedies

• Plasters

• Bandages

• Thermometer

• Tissues If you are already taking other medication, check first with your pharmacist to make sure the medicines are right for you.

If it’s not an emergency, please don’t go to A&E or ring 999.

People can help the NHS during these busy times by making sure they ‘choose well’ and consider using other parts of the NHS, such as a pharmacist, your GP, NHS Direct online at www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk or on 0845 46 47.

Full details of Buckinghamshire pharmacy opening times over Christmas and New Year are available at www.buckinghamshire.nhs.uk