Minor Illness

Getting the right treatment

Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that can be easily resolved without a doctor's appointment.

These days, you have more choice than ever before about the way that you receive healthcare and information from the NHS. The NHS offers you a wide range of services that can save you time and help you to get the right treatment.

As well as the services provided by your local GP surgery, or health centre, there are a range of other options, such as calling NHS 111, visiting a walk-in centre, or asking your local pharmacist for advice.

To find your local NHS service log on to Find Your Local


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 pharmacist can advise on what you might find useful to keep in your medicine cabinet. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label and consult your doctor if the illness continues or becomes more severe.

Your Local Pharmacist

Pharmacists are qualified to give free health advice and help with everyday illnesses. They can answer questions about choosing the right medicine and help you to decide whether or not you need to see your GP.

Pharmacists can also advise on health eating, Obesity and giving up smoking. Some pharmacists 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. 

Watch this short video on how you can get the most out of your local pharmacy

NHS walk-in centres

Experienced NHS nurses at NHS walk-in centres provide treatment for minor illnesses and injuries. They can also give you advice about what to do about non-urgent conditions. They are usually open from early morning to late evening, seven days a week and you do not have to make an appointment.

Here are some of teh many treatments you can be treated for at a walk-in centre:

  • infection and rashes
  • fractures and lacerations
  • emergency contraception and advice
  • stomach upsets
  • cuts and bruises
  • burns and strains

Minor Injury Units (MIUs)

Minor injury units (MIUs) usually treat less serious injuries, like cuts, sprains, and minor burns in those who are over 12 years of age. If you are not sure whether your injury is minor and can be treated at a MIU, call NHS 111. They will be able to give you advice, and tell you where your nearest unit is.

Accident and Emergency (A&E)

You should go to your local Accident and emergency (A&E) department if you need emergency care for a serious injury, or illness - for example, if you are experiencing breathing difficulties, blood loss, or if you suspect that you have a broken bone. A&E departments are usually open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In an emergency you should dial 999 to ask for an ambulance.

Unless you need emergency medical attention, it is best not to go to your local A&E. A&E doctors and nurses are equipped to deal with serious medical cases, not routine and minor ailments.

Some of the serious injuries or illnesses that you should attend your local A&E department for:

  • loss of consciousness,
  • pain that is not relieved by simple analgesia,
  • acute confused state,
  • persistent, severe chest pain, or
  • breathing difficulties.

If you're injured or seriously ill, you should go, or be taken, to A&E. If an ambulance is needed you can call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK.

Major A&E departments offer access 365 days a year and usually open 24 hours a day. Be aware that not all hospitals have an A&E department.


You can make an appointment with your GP for general medical treatments, such as injections, prescriptions, or blood tests. GPs work with a range of healthcare professionals including nurses, health care visitors, mental health nurses, midwives and practice nurses. They will be able to help you should you require healthcare.

GP surgeries are particularly busy during the winter months, so make sure that you keep to your appointment time, and cancel it if you are unable to attend. Missed appointments waste precious GP time and resources.

Here in South Gloucestershire, nearly every GP surgery is now open for longer, either in the evenings or weekends.  Find out more in Find Your Local


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