Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that can be easily resolved without an appointment with the doctor. It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema, and athlete's foot.
Keeping a well stocked medicine cabinet at home can help you treat many minor ailments. Colds, coughs, indigestion and many other minor complaints can all be treated with medicines that are available over the counter.
Your local pharmacy
Pharmacists offer professional free health advice at any time - you don't need an appointment. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses. They can answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Your local Pharmacist can also advise on healthy eating. Pharmacies often have private areas where you can talk in confidence. They may suggest you visit your GP for more serious symptoms. It is possible to purchase many medicines from the chemist without a prescription.
NHS walk-in centres
NHS walk-in centres offer convenient access to a range of NHS services. You can receive treatment for many ailments including: infection and rashes, fractures and lacerations, emergency contraception and advice, stomach upsets, cuts and bruises, or burns and strains. NHS walk-in centres treat around 3 million patients a year and have proved to be a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services. Some centres offer access to doctors as well as nurses. However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.
NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you're not sure what to do.
To get help from NHS 11 you can go to www.111.nhs.uk (for people aged 5 and over only) or call 111.
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you have difficulties communicating or hearing, you can call 18001 111 on a textphone or use the NHS 111 British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter service if you're deaf and want to use the phone service.
Accident & Emergency (A&E)
An A&E department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
- Severe allergic reactions
- Severe burns or scalds
- Major trauma such as a road traffic accident