Self Treatmentlogo

Self Help for Minor Ailments

Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that our local pharmacist could resolve.

It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as:

  • coughs and colds

  • mild eczema

  • athlete’s foot

But by visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble. Instead of booking and waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit your local pharmacist any time: just walk in.

All pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints. They can give advice or, where appropriate, over the counter medicines that will help to clear up the problem. If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP. What’s more, many pharmacies are open in the evenings and on the weekends. If everybody went to a pharmacist with common health problems, more time would be freed for our GPs. This might make it easier to get a convenient appointment with your GP next time you need one.

So if you have a common health problem, a trip to your pharmacy is an option.

Your pharmacist may be able to help with:

Some pharmacies can provide truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies.

Go to your GP, a walk-in centre or accident and emergency for:

  • suturing or wound and dressing care

  • muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains

  • lacerations, cuts, fractures, severe sprains and strains

  • infected wounds and foreign bodies

  • head injuries or loss of consciousness

  • suspected broken bones or heavy blood loss

  • persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing

  • overdose or poisoning

Minor ailment services

Some pharmacies run a minor ailment service, which means that they can supply medicines for certain specific conditions on the NHS. It’s up to your local NHS to decide whether pharmacies in your area provide these services. If your pharmacy runs a minor ailment service for eczema, for example, it means that your pharmacist can supply medicines for this condition, and you’ll only pay the standard prescription charge. Or if you’re exempt from paying prescription charges, for example because you’re over 60, you won’t pay for the medicine.

Use this NHS Choices Service search to look for pharmacies in your area. Each pharmacy listing on NHS Choices comes with a ‘Services’ tab which should list the minor ailment service if the pharmacy has one.

Or simply ask at your local pharmacy.

[This Data is part of the NHS Choices Website for Treating Common Conditions.]