With the recent social media hype surrounding the supposed revelation that your local community pharmacist has been withholding free Calpol and other medications from your family for years, it is time to dispel some of the myths around the Minor Ailment Scheme.
The Minor Ailment Scheme enables a pharmacist to diagnose and treat minor ailments for free from the pharmacy, without the need to see a GP. This means your pharmacist will be able to offer expert advice in a more timely manner, especially as pharmacies are often open longer than GP surgeries. If you are eligible and treatment for your minor ailment is covered, you can receive medicine free of charge.
Patients who are exempt from NHS prescription charges are eligible for free medication.
Patients who are likely to be exempt from NHS prescription charges include those:
Pharmacies will offer the generic version of medicines when available. As Calpol is available as paracetamol liquid your pharmacist will likely offer you this medicine (which is medically equivalent to Calpol). The medicine is only free if you are eligible for the Minor Ailment Scheme and your pharmacy is enrolled.
Not every pharmacy offers this service, so you will need to check with your local pharmacy to see if they offer this service.
The Minor Ailment Scheme is designed to take some of the pressure off GPs by enabling local community pharmacists to offer expert advice and free treatment to some patients on the NHS. This frees up GP time and helps improve access for patients with more complex conditions. The scheme also helps save money for the NHS, as the cost of a GP consultation versus a pharmacist consultation is almost three times higher.
The medication that is available will differ between pharmacies; however, the following is an example of what medicines may be available through the scheme:
Colds and Flu
Diarrhoea & vomiting
Contact dermatitis, bites and stings
Teething and mouth ulcers
As long as the scheme is not over-used, the NHS should see long-term benefits and make significant savings.