Local GPs are reminding patients that staying at home and resting, and seeking the advice of a pharmacist if you need help to manage symptoms, will get you through most short term illnesses.

Pharmacists are your health expert on the high street. They are highly trained professionals who can give advice and recommend treatments for common complaints, such as hay fever, coughs and colds, that you can treat at home and will not usually last for long.

You don’t need an appointment to speak to a pharmacist and most pharmacies have areas where you can have a private consultation.

Selected pharmacies in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley will open on the Easter bank holidays – see below for further details.

Dr Sarah MacDermott, local GP and Chair of NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “People go to see their GP with common ailments because they are unsure how long symptoms last and need reassurance that it isn’t anything more serious.  Instead of waiting for an appointment at your surgery, consider going to your local pharmacist first.

“Pharmacists can explain the normal duration of symptoms, give advice on how to manage symptoms and tell you if they think you need to see a GP.”

Managing your short term condition yourself, and visiting a pharmacy when you need to, will not just keep you healthier, it will also help ease demand on local health services where a large number of people still visit A&E for treatment of health problems that could be dealt with by simple advice from a pharmacist.

Many medicines are available to buy easily and cheaply over the counter, without the need for a prescription. GPs will no longer prescribe medicines for minor, short term health conditions, which are widely available to buy over the counter.

Pharmacies open in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley over Easter are:

Good Friday (19 April):

Boots the Chemist, South Mall, Bluewater, Dartford, 9am to 11:59pm

Boots the Chemist, 46-52 High Street, Dartford, 8:30am to 6pm

Lloyds Pharmacy, 7 Priory Shopping Centre, Instone Road, Dartford, 9am to 5pm

Village Pharmacy, 2 The Row, New Ash Green, Dartford, 9am to 6pm

West Hill Pharmacy, Cliffside Court, 70 West Hill, Dartford, 8:30am to 6:30pm

Asda store pharmacy, Thames Way, Gravesend, 9am to 6pm

Boots the Chemist, 9 Kempthorne, Gravesend, 9am to 5:30pm

Darnley Pharmacy, 17 Pelham Road, Gravesend, 8:30-1pm, 1:30pm to 7pm

Echo Pharmacy, Oakfield Health Centre, off Windsor Road, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-7pm

Kings Pharmacy, 22a Kitchener Avenue, Gravesend, 10am-4pm

NB Pharmacy, 44 Old Road West, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-7pm

Nicholson & Keep, 1 The Parade, Valley Drive, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm.

Asda Superstore, Station Road, Greenhithe, 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm.

Vigo Pharmacy, 7 The Bay, Vigo Village, Meopham, 8:45am-1pm, 2pm-5:30pm.

Asda store pharmacy, 1 Alexander Grove, London Road, Swanley, 9am-6pm

Easter Sunday (21 April):

M D Moore Pharmacy, 141 Dartford Road, Dartford, 9:30am-3:30pm

Kings Pharmacy, 22a Kitchener Avenue, Gravesend, 10am-4pm

Singlewell Pharmacy, 133 Singlewell Road, Gravesend, 9:30am-3:30pm

Thales Pharmacy, 31 Azalea Drive, Swanley, 9:30am-3:30pm

Easter Monday (22 April):

Boots the Chemist, South Mall, Bluewater, Dartford, 9am-11:59pm

Boots the Chemist, 46-52 High Street, Dartford, 10am-6pm

Lloyds Pharmacy, 7 Priory Shopping Centre, Instone Road, Dartford, 9am to 5pm

Paydens Pharmacy, 63 Lowfield Street, Dartford, 9am-7pm

Village Pharmacy, 2 The Row, New Ash Green, Dartford, 9am to 6pm

West Hill Pharmacy, Cliffside Court, 70 West Hill, Dartford, 8:30am-6:30pm

Asda store pharmacy, Thames Way, Gravesend, 9am to 6pm

Boots the Chemist, 9 Kempthorne, Gravesend, 10am-4pm

Darnley Pharmacy, 17 Pelham Road, Gravesend, 8:30-1pm, 1:30pm to 7pm

Echo Pharmacy, Oakfield Health Centre, off Windsor Road, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-7pm

Kings Pharmacy, 22a Kitchener Avenue, Gravesend, 10am-4pm

NB Pharmacy, 44 Old Road West, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-7pm

Nicholson & Keep, 1 The Parade, Valley Drive, Gravesend, 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm.

Asda Superstore, Station Road, Greenhithe, 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm.

Vigo Pharmacy, 7 The Bay, Vigo Village, Meopham, 8:45am-1pm, 2pm-5:30pm

Asda store pharmacy, 1 Alexander Grove, London Road, Swanley, 9am-6pm

For further information about self-care and healthy lifestyles, visit the NHS website.

When you need medical help or advice urgently, but it’s not life-threatening, call 111.