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Eastern Cheshire GPs could have an extra hour a day for appointments if more people gave ‘self-care’ a go by trying over-the-counter medicines first for common minor conditions.
Many common ailments do not need a prescription and will often get better on their own. There are medicines that can help with the symptoms and these can be bought cheaply and quickly from pharmacists, supermarkets and local retailers. They are known as ‘over-the-counter’ medicines and you do not need to have seen a doctor or have a prescription to buy them.
NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) estimates that GPs could have an extra hour a day to treat more seriously ill patients if they didn’t see as many people with coughs, colds, sore throats and headaches which could be treated instead with over-the-counter medicines.
That is why the CCG is urging people to stock up their medicine cabinets for winter with over-the-counter medicines, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, so they can deal with any minor conditions.
Minor conditions are short lived, simple complaints that are not serious and include:
• coughs, colds, sore throats, headaches
• indigestion, constipation, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea and vomiting
• minor pain or discomfort from back pain, strains and sprains
• allergies, insect bites and stings
• acute nasal congestion
• dry skin, rash and sunburn
• acne, cold sores and head lice
Dr Paul Bowen, clinical chair of the CCG and GP at McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton said: “A prescription is not a cure all, especially for minor conditions where it is best to let nature takes it course. For example it is a misconception that antibiotics are needed to treat a cold.
“We are also trying to free up GP appointments so they can be used for patients with more serious health problems.
“Although the NHS is free to patients when they receive a service, there is still a cost that has to be funded. It costs more than £50 to fund a GP’s appointment and the pharmacist’s fees for a prescription medicine that could cost just pennies from a pharmacy or supermarket.”
Dr Bowen knows it can be daunting trying to work out which is the best medicine or treatment to try but there is lots of free, quick help available.
He added: “People shouldn’t be worried about asking for advice. There is free, professional advice from qualified pharmacists who have a wide range of products and often have their own private consultation rooms.
“There is also help, any time day or night, from the NHS Choices web site or by calling 111 free of charge to be connected to an adviser at NHS111.”