Self Care

Self care is about looking after yourself in a healthy way. It can be anything from brushing your teeth, doing some exercise, managing common conditions (also sometimes called minor ailments) like headaches, colds and flu, or living with a long-term health problem, such as asthma or diabetes.


Did you know? 

  • One in every five GP visits are for common conditions, such as backache, headache or cough.
  • Many patients visit their GP or Accident and Emergency department with common conditions which could have been treated with advice from their pharmacist.
  • Every time you see a GP it costs the NHS £36 on average, and a visit to Accident and Emergency can cost up to £130.
  • Last year in Lambeth, the NHS spent over £1 million on over the counter products that you can easily get without a prescription.

Why should I self care? 

You can manage most common conditions at home with support from your community pharmacist.

  • You will help ease the pressure on NHS services for common conditions that could be managed at home.
  • You can help free up some of your GP or nurse’s time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious or complex condition.
  • You will help to reduce the amount spent by your local NHS on medicines that are available over the counter.

How can I self care?

Many common conditions can be treated at home with the support of your local pharmacy if needed. Over the counter products for self care are things like pain relief and cough and cold remedies. These items can be bought from pharmacies and supermarkets without a prescription. They are also often cheaper this way. You can get them without an appointment or seeing a doctor.


How can my pharmacist help? 

Your local pharmacist can give you friendly, expert advice on the self care of common conditions and can recommend over the counter medicines that can help, if needed. You can have a confidential consultation with the pharmacist in a private area of the pharmacy. If your condition needs the attention of a GP or another healthcare professional, the pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP or the most appropriate healthcare professional. Many  pharmacies are open during evenings and weekends so you can see your local pharmacist anytime. Just walk in, you don’t need an appointment. You can find your nearest pharmacy on the NHS Choices website at


Where can I find out more? 

The Self Care Forum has produced factsheets to help you take care of the most common conditions. These provide useful facts about your condition, what you can expect to happen, how to help yourself, when you should see your GP and where to find out more information. To read these leaflets visit You can also find information on these and other common conditions by visiting the NHS Choices website at


What do I need in my medicine cabinet?

To support self care at home, keep a well-stocked medicine cabinet with essential medicines and products such as:

  • Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-diarrhoeal medicine
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Indigestion treatment
  • First aid kit including plasters, bandages and a thermometer

For the full recommended list visit

Don’t keep or use medicines after their expiry date. Take them to your local community pharmacy where they can be disposed of safely.


What do I do if I need urgent help?

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones. Call 111 if you urgently need medical help but it’s not a life threatening situation. Visit