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Doctors’ advice for a healthy summer holiday

So, the NHS in Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire is reminding people to visit their local pharmacy as part of their plans and preparation for their break.

Travellers’ diarrhoea is the most common health problem to affect travellers abroad, with between 20–60 per cent of travellers affected1. Imagine you’re on holiday and suddenly you’re struck down with vomiting and diarrhoea but you forgot to pack the diarrhoea tablets, or you’ve discovered that the repeat prescription you thought you’d arranged is actually sitting on the sideboard. Well, a quick visit to your local pharmacy before your holiday can help take those worries away.

Dr Phil Huxley, Chair at NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Talk to your local pharmacist if you’re on medication for a long term condition, such as asthma, diabetes or a heart condition to find out if you need a repeat prescription to take with you.

You can do this in a number of ways. Firstly, Patient Online is available at all GP practices. It allows you to access detailed information on your medical record and look up your medication online. You can order repeat prescriptions and book and cancel appointments from a smartphone, a tablet or a PC. If you are not registered just ask at your GP practice for a form and take in some photo ID such as a passport or driving licence. They can register you there and then.

Secondly, free online repeat prescription service. Many pharmacies offer this service and it allows them to liaise directly with your GP. They can send you free email reminders so you know when to re-order your medication – useful when you’re planning your trip.”

Also to remember is a basic first aid kit which can help with minor ailments, such as stomach upsets, allergies, headaches, sunburn, insect bites, aches and sprains and strains. A really useful interactive First Aid Kit guide can be found at www.nhs.uk.

Dr Chris Clayton, Clinical Chief Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A basic first aid kit can also help deal with any minor illnesses or injuries whilst you’re away. Your local pharmacy can advise you on what to pack.

It’s important to check the rules about the types of medicines you are allowed to take into the country and the maximum quantity you can take. Different countries have different regulations and some medicines available over the counter in the UK may be controlled in other countries and vice versa.”

If you’re travelling in Europe be sure to have and carry with you a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is available free at www.ehic.org.uk. It will enable you to access state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will also cover treatment until you return to the UK. More information is available at www.nhs.uk/EHIC as well as guidance on applying for a Card.

1Figures from Patient Information: http://patient.info/doctor/travellers-diarrhoea-pro