For minor conditions then visit the pharmacist first

Some common conditions that people seek GP appointments for will get better within a short time or can be treated with over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy.

For a wide range of minor ailments your local pharmacist should be your first point-of-call because:

  • You don’t need an appointment
  • There are no waiting times
  • You will see a clinician with expertise in minor ailments and their treatment
  • You can have privacy if you would like it
  • You can leave with an appropriate treatment or therapy and guidance on how to use it

So, from the beginning of September, pharmacies across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent will no longer be offering the Minor Ailments Service free of charge. Instead, people will be offered self care advice around how they can treat their conditions using over-the-counter medicines.

This is in-line with NHS England guidance and follows a national consultation which concluded last year. The consultation showed that 81% of respondents thought there should not be prescriptions issued for self-limiting conditions, and 72% thought they should not be issued if an over-the-counter remedy was easily available.

“We have to make better use of our pharmacies,” said Dr Steve Fawcett, CCG Medical Director and Staffordshire GP.

“If a medicine is available over-the counter from a pharmacy, that is the best place to seek advice and that is what GPs will be advising patients.

“People can be assured that pharmacists are highly trained clinicians, and when it comes to minor ailments their knowledge is comparable to that of a GP.

“They will also be able to spot instances when people do need to see a GP and advise them accordingly. So, this is really about making sure people get to see the right clinician.”

To find out more about the conditions where medicines will no longer be prescribed, head to our Self Care page

Dr Fawcett added: “Some of these conditions are what we call ‘self-limiting’, which means they should get better by themselves after a short while and you may just need something to help with the symptoms.

“Others are best treated by over-the-counter medicines.  These are not any different to getting a prescription, they are still the best way to treat your needs.  The difference is that you get the help straight away while also make the best use of our NHS resources.”

Where a pharmacist can’t help, they will direct you to the most appropriate local service for your need.