Medical Information

NHS Minor Ailment Scheme

 

If you don't pay for your prescriptions, you may be able to use the NHS Minor Ailment Scheme to get advice and, when appropriate, free treatment for certain common illnesses without seeing a GP

Help for common illnesses:

 

If you want help dealing with a common illness such as a cold, cough or diarrhoea, you may be able to use the free NHS Minor Ailment Scheme at selected pharmacies, including some Boots pharmacies. Their pharmacist will be able to offer advice and may be able to offer you medicines for a minor illness without you having to book an appointment to see your GP.

 

Who is the service for?

Schemes vary between locations, but the NHS Minor Ailment Scheme is for adults and children who:

 

  •          Are registered with a GP surgery which is taking part in the scheme
  •          Want treatment for a minor illness included in your local scheme

Medicines can be supplied free of charge to the customer if they are exempt from NHS prescription charges.
 

The NHS Minor Ailment Scheme is available in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but only in selected pharmacies across England and Wales. Ask your local Boots pharmacy whether they offer the scheme and they'll check if you're eligible to receive it.

 

 How it works

 

  1.  Talk to a pharmacist about your illness and they will offer advice.
  2. If a medicine is needed, the pharmacist will check your eligibility and whether the illness is covered by the scheme.
  3. A suitable medicine may be offered to you.*

*Charges will apply if you normally pay for your prescriptions. If you're exempt, for example people under 16 or over 60, then you won't pay for the medicine as this service is funded by the NHS.

 

What minor illnesses are covered?

 

Illnesses supported within the scheme may differ between locations. Some illnesses covered include:-

 

  • Back-ache, sprains and strains
  • Colds
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Constipation
  • Coughs
  • Diarrhoea
  • Earache
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Hay fever
  • Head lice
  • Headache and fever
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild eczema and dermatitis
  • Minor fungal skin infections
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Sore throat
  • Teething
  • Threadworm
  • Thrush

Benefits

 

  • Convenient: No need to make an appointment
  • Advice: Pharmacist can refer you to a GP if necessary
  • Flexible: Many pharmacies are open at the weekend

We have put together a guide to illnesses, their symptoms and how long/if you should keep your child off school. All information on this page has been taken from the Devon County Council Spotty book for infectious diseases in schools.

Sickness and Diarrhoea
The main symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain which may occur singly or in combination. The illness usually lasts only a short time and requires no specific treatment.
 
Anyone with gastroenteritis should be regarded as infectious and kept away from the school until the diarrhoea and vomiting have stopped for at least 48 hours.
 
Should blood be present in stools or a child appears particularly unwell, a doctor should be consulted.

Chicken Pox
Chickenpox usually begins with a fever, feeling generally unwell and glassy fluid filled spots spreading all over the body. Chickenpox is spread from person to person by virus shed from the nose or throat as droplets or by direct contact. The fluid inside the spot is infectious. Chickenpox is infectious during its early stages from 1 - 2 days before until 5 days after spots first appear.
 
The incubation period of chickenpox is between 13 and 17 days after contact with the infected person.
 
Children can return to school once the pox have all scabbed over.

Hand Foot and Mouth
The illness starts with red spots which become small blisters which then ulcerate.

The ulcers are painful and can be in the mouth, on the hands or feet. A fever is common, but the disease is usually mild.

The incubation period is about 3-7 days with the disease lasting about 10 days.
 
The best that can be done is children remain off school/nursery until clinically recovered, to disinfect articles soiled with nose and throat secretions and to practise good toilet hygiene.

Conjunctivitis
Causes red eyes often with swelling, weeping or visible pus.
 
Strict attention to hand washing reduces the spread of the virus.
 
Children with active infection should be risk assessed on an individual basis.

Glandular Fever
It usually takes the form of a sore throat with swollen glands in the neck.
 
Full recovery may take some weeks, during which time the person may feel very washed out. There is no specific treatment.
 
This is not a very infectious disease except with close contact and the child should only be kept away if feeling unwell.
 
Hand Foot and Mouth
The illness starts with red spots which become small blisters which then ulcerate.

The ulcers are painful and can be in the mouth, on the hands or feet. A fever is common, but the disease is usually mild.

The incubation period is about 3-7 days with the disease lasting about 10 days.
 
The best that can be done is children remain off school/nursery until clinically recovered, to disinfect articles soiled with nose and throat secretions and to practise good toilet hygiene.

Impetigo
Impetigo commonly affects the face, particularly around the nose and mouth causing weeping lesions which form crusts. Young children may be generally off colour.
 
These are infectious while the spots are wet and discharging pus. Antibiotic treatment is helpful; separate towels and thorough hand washing are important in preventing transmission.
 
Children can return to school once they are well and the lesions are crusted or healed.

Scabies
The main symptom is itching and there may be a rash on the wrists, fingers, feet and body.
 
Lotions can be purchased from a chemist or obtained on prescription from the doctor. It is important to follow the instructions on the bottle.
 
The whole family should be treated at the same time even if only one person has obvious scabies.
 
Children can return to school on the day after they have been treated.

Slap Cheek
It initially appears as a 'flu-like' illness and then the bright red 'slapped cheeks' rash appears, followed by a reddish rash on the body. This rash may last for up to three weeks. A few children, but most adults, have mild joint pains.
 
By the time the 'slapped cheeks' rash appears, most patients are no longer infectious, and excluding children with the body rash serves no useful purpose.