Self Care

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On this page you can find out about the steps you can take to care for yourself - and your family - through over the counter treatments for minor ailments and self-limiting conditions.

What are the benefits?

Self-care is good for you and for the NHS. There are lots of benefits to self-care. We believe it’s:

  • Quicker - no need to wait for a GP appointment. You can buy the medicines you need over the counter at your local pharmacy or supermarket and have them ready to use at home.
  • Easier - many treatments can be bought without the need for a prescription at your local pharmacy or supermarket, often for much less than a prescription charge.
  • Simple - advice and information about self-care is widely available online. You can also call into any pharmacy for advice on the best treatment for your minor illness.
  • Considerate - self-care helps relieve pressures on GP practices, A&E and could potentially save the NHS around £136m every year.

Over the counter treatments for minor ailments and self-limiting conditions

Self-care helps relieve pressures on GP practices, emergency departments and could potentially save the NHS around £136m every year. The information on this page follows NHS England guidance issued this year.

Community pharmacists are best placed to help and advise you about suitable treatments for minor conditions. They are a great source of information, advice and guidance and you can buy medicines cheaply and easily for minor conditions. The pharmacist will check the medicine is appropriate for you and your health problem. They will ask questions to ensure there is no reason why you should not use the medicine. 

The conditions for which prescriptions will not be routinely issued by your GP are listed below. However, if you are worried or your symptoms get worse or persist you can still make an appointment to see your GP.

Follow the links below for NHS guidance on symptoms, advice and treatment, and when to seek further help:


A-Z of minor conditions 


Preparing to self-care

Be prepared and stock up your medicine cabinet. These affordable key items will help when you or your family and friends are feeling under the weather.

  • See our interactive medicines box for advice on keeping your medicines and treatments for common ailments stocked up.
  • Watch the 'How ready are you? video below:


Vitamin D 

Everyone should get an adequate intake of vitamin D for healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps our bodies to absorb calcium. Most of our vitamin D intake comes from sunlight and a small proportion comes from our diet. 

Vitamin D is particularly important for pregnant women, to help keep their bones healthy and so that their babies are born with enough vitamin D in their bodies for the first few months of life.

Infant Formula

If your child is diagnosed with an allergy to some of the ingredients in their infant formula, or they require a thickened formulation to prevent acid reflux, a specialised infant formula will be recommended by your health care professional. These are different to the standard cows’ milk-based infant formula given to infants without these problems.

Traditionally, specialised formulas can be supplied on prescription until your child is weaned on to a solid diet.  However, you will be asked to purchase these if they are available in supermarkets at a similar cost to non-specialised infant formulas. 


Gluten free foods

In the summer of 2016 we invited people to talk to us about changes to the way we prescribe gluten-free products for patients diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

Over 700 people participated in a survey to tell us what mattered most to them enabling us to really understand the impact of any change introduced. We would like to thank everyone who got involved as it really has helped us to make our prescribing decisions.

Have questions?