A VILLAGE pharmacy has joined a national campaign to make people stop and think of alternatives before visiting their doctor.

Staff at Rockliffe Pharmacy in Hurworth Place, near Darlington, commandeered a large lollipop sign to urge motorists and passers-by to stop and ask their pharmacist about minor ailments before visiting their doctor or hospital accident and emergency department.

The stunt was part of the nationwide Ask Your Pharmacist campaign launched after figures revealed an estimated 50 million people visit their GP with minor ailments each year.

Pharmacist Carole Tunstall said minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot were just some of the complaints people visited their GP about., costing the NHS £2 billion every year.

"Many people don’t realise their local pharmacy can support with a number of minor ailments," she 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.”

Ms Tunstall admitted that finding the right help could be more difficult for busy mums as a recent survey found that North-East mums spend on average 57 hours a week cooking, cleaning, washing and keeping up the family’s healthcare needs.

As a result, they are left feeling stressed when illness strikes, leading one in four to go straight to their GP to resolve symptoms.

She stressed that a pharmacy can be a convenient source of help for parents looking for quick reassurance and support.