It's estimated 50 million visits to the GP are made every year for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and 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, medicines that will help 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 instead.
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 up 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 local pharmacy is an option.
Your pharmacist may be able to help with:
Some pharmacies also provide truss fittings, stoma products and incontinence supplies.
Go to your GP or a walk-in centre for:
- wound and dressing care
- muscle and joint injuries, including strains and sprains
- minor lacerations and cuts
- infected wounds
Go to accident and emergency (A&E) for:
- head injuries or loss of consciousness
- suturing (stitches)
- foreign bodies
- suspected broken bones or heavy blood loss
- persistent chest pain or difficulty breathing
- overdose or poisoning
If an injury is not serious, you can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU), rather than going to an A&E department.
Minor ailment services
Some pharmacies run a minor ailment scheme, which means they can supply medicines for certain conditions on the NHS.
If your pharmacy runs a minor ailment scheme that includes eczema, for example, it means your pharmacist can supply medicines for this condition and you'll only pay the standard prescription charge.
If you're exempt from paying prescription charges – because you're under 16 or over 60, for example, or you have a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – you won't pay for the medicine. Just ask at your local pharmacy.
Look for pharmacies in your area.