Common health complaints, such as coughs, colds and headaches, account for one out of every five GP appointments in England.
Many of these can be treated quicker and just as effectively at home using self care, advice from your pharmacist and over-the-counter medicines bought from pharmacies or supermarkets.
Below are the top 10 conditions, listed in decreasing order, that account for 75% of GP consultations for minor ailments.
- Back pain
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Nasal congestion
- Sprains and strains
NHS Choices gives more information on home remedies for common conditions. Please go to http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Pharmacy/Pages/home-remedies-for-common-conditions.aspx
Colds, most coughs, sinusitis, ear injections, sore throats, and other infections often get better without antibiotics, as your body can usually fight these injections on its own. The more we use antibiotics, the greater the chance that bacteria will become resistant to them so that they no longer work on our infections. Antibiotics can cause side effects such as rashes, thrush, stomach pains, diarrhoea, reactions to sunlight, other symptoms, or being sick if you drink alcohol with metronidazole.
Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals. Before becoming a pharmacist they will have completed a four year university degree and have worked for a year under the supervision of an experienced and qualified pharmacist, usually in a hospital or community pharmacy (such as a supermarket or high street pharmacy).
All pharmacies will provide the following services
- repeat dispensing
- disposal of unwanted or out-of-date medicines
- advice on treatment of minor conditions, for example viral illnesses, eye infections, urinary tract infections, headlice, sore throats
- advice on healthy living
Other services which may be available
Our nurse prescribers can see patients with minor illnesses such as
- chest infections
- Ear, nose and throat infections
- Urine infections
- Oral thrush
- Abdominal pain
They can also advise on minor injuries such as
- muscular problems
- skin infections
- eye problems
(This will vary for children under 12 months, patients with mental health problems, patients being seen regularly by a GP for palliative care, or patients requiring vaginal or rectal examination).
Health Care Assistants [HCA]
The HCAs provide the following services
- Taking blood samples [phlebotomy]
- Giving certain injections, including flu jabs
- Performing NHS Health Checks
- Fitting and removing 24 hour BP machines
- Simple dressings
- Removal of Stitches
The Practice Nurses provide the following services
- Chronic disease management, including diabetes and asthma
- Vaccination and immunisation of children and adults
- Pressure bandaging of leg ulcers
- Complicated dressings following attendance at Hospital
- Holiday travel vaccinations
- Cervical smears
The following are possible signs of serious illness and should be assessed urgently. Phone 111 for advice if you are not sure how urgent the symptoms are.
- If you develop chest pain
- If you have difficulty swallowing or are drooling
- If you cough up blood
- If you are feeling a lot worse
- If you develop a severe headache and are sick
- If your skin is very cold or has a strange colour, or you develop an unusual rash
- If you feel confused or have slurred speech or are very drowsy.
- If you have difficulty in breathing. Signs that suggest breathing problems can include
- breathing quickly
- turning blue around the lips and the skin below the mouth
- skin between or above the ribs getting sucked or pulled in with every breath