TODAY we brought you the news that Swindon is the place with the longest wait for GP appointments in England.

But one way you can help the surgeries is my making sure you're only booking an appointment when you really need to.

An alternative option is pharmacies, which can offer a range of services.

Here's our guide on what to use them for according the the NHS website:

Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns

As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If symptoms suggest it's something more serious, pharmacists have the right training to make sure you get the help you need. For example they will tell you if you need to see a GP.

All pharmacists train for 5 years in the use of medicines. They are also trained in managing minor illnesses and providing health and wellbeing advice.

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends. You don't need an appointment – you can just walk in.

Most pharmacies have a private consultation room where you can discuss issues with pharmacy staff without being overheard.

All pharmacies provide the following services

Dispensing of NHS prescriptions

Access to the repeat prescription service (with agreement from your GP)

A emergency supply of medicine (subject to the decision of the pharmacist)

Non-prescription medicines like paracetamol

Disposal of unwanted or out-of-date medicines

Advice on treating minor health concerns and healthy living

Pharmacy technicians can help with things like:

Inhaler technique

How to take a medicine safely

Helping you understand the correct dose of a new medicine and how often you need to take it

Repeat prescriptions

If you're regularly prescribed the same medicine, your GP may offer a prescription that can be repeated several times.

You choose which pharmacy you would prefer to collect your prescriptions from and your GP will send your prescription there.

You'll then be able to collect your repeat medicines directly from the pharmacy you have chosen until your doctor needs to review your treatment. This means fewer trips to the GP just to get another prescription.

If you are using this service, you will need to contact your chosen pharmacy a few days before you run out of medicine to ask for a new prescription and find out when it will be ready.

As part of this service, the pharmacist will ask if you're having any problems or side effects with your prescription medicines and, where appropriate, they can discuss this with you and your GP.

Minor illnesses

Pharmacies can give treatment advice about a range of common conditions and minor injuries, such as

Aches and pains

Sore throat






Skin rashes


Ted eye

If you want to buy an over-the-counter medicine, the pharmacist an their team can help you choose.

Antibiotics will not be available over the counter to treat minor conditions.

Other services that may be available at your local pharmacy

You may be referred to a pharmacy for advice after calling NHS 111

Emergency contraception

Asthma inhaler use and advice

Chlamydia screening and treatment

Sstop smoking service

Blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar testing

Substance misuse service, including needle and syringe exchange schemes

Weight management service

Flu vaccination

Out-of-hours service

Many pharmacies offer extended opening hours in the evenings and at weekends. Some are open until midnight or even later, even on public holidays.