Help my NHS to give me the best care this summer

With many common summer ailments - including hay fever, travel sickness or an upset stomach - you can care for yourself using medicines bought over the counter at a pharmacy. Pharmacists are healthcare experts who can give you clinical advice about all sorts of illnesses without the need for an appointment or prescription and many pharmacies are open late and at weekends.

At the same time you can help your local NHS to free up millions of pounds for services such as cancer treatments and GP services.

Did you know that it costs the NHS more than £35 to prescribe antihistamines through a GP appointment, but you can buy your own over the counter at a pharmacy for just 99p? Last year we spent more than £790,000 on antihistamine prescriptions in Sussex and East Surrey - much of which could have been purchased directly over the counter at a local pharmacy for a fraction of the price. Prescriptions for the treatment of mild to moderate hay fever are not routinely being offered by GPs, as the condition can be appropriately treated with medicines bought over the counter

The NHS nationally is urging patients to buy many medicines direct from their local pharmacy to self-treat minor illnesses, rather than seeking a prescription through a GP appointment.

You can help your NHS by buying your own medicines for:

  • hayfever and other allergies
  • indigestion or upset stomach
  • pain and fever
  • insect bites and stings
  • travel sickness
  • sun protection and sunburn

Your GP will still be able to prescribe these medicines in specific circumstances, such as when patients are experiencing long-term or more complex conditions, but in the majority of cases, getting a prescription for travel sickness pills or anti-dandruff shampoo just isn’t necessary.

By consulting your pharmacist they can assess your symptoms and advise you on how to care for yourself.  If symptoms suggest it’s more serious, they’ll ensure you get the help you need.

Every year in Sussex and East Surrey we spend more than £15 million prescribing medicines and products that are easily available to buy over the counter. Every £1million saved on unnecessary prescriptions could instead fund around:

  • 39 community nurses
  • 270 hip replacements
  • 66 treatments for breast cancer

The NHS belongs to us all so please use it responsibly – #HelpMyNHS