Parents can get access to free children’s paracetamol and other treatments they would normally buy as part of a scheme to take pressure off GPs - but health bosses have warned them not to go overboard.
The minor ailments scheme allows pharmacies to hand out certain medications without the need for a doctor’s appointment.
It is aimed at those patients who are exempt from paying prescription charges, but as children are also exempt, it also means any parent can go to their local pharmacy and get free treatments if their child is suffering from problems including head lice, verrucas or warts, nappy rash or hay fever.
The guide issued by NHS England, which oversees the scheme, states: “The service is aimed at those patients who do not currently self-care / purchase medicines over the counter but who use GP or out of hours services when they have a minor ailment.
“It is hoped that this service will change patient behaviours by educating and assisting patients in how to access self-care and informing on the appropriate use of healthcare services.”
“Pharmacies run schemes that deal with specific ailments, such as aches and pains, skin conditions and stomach upsets. If your pharmacy runs such a scheme, the pharmacist will be able to assess your needs, give you advice, suggest medicines if appropriate, and refer you to a GP if necessary,” says pharmacist Bobby Mehta, who sits on the Slough branch committee of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The NHS Minor Ailments service is available at pharmacies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and selected stores in England and Wales so check locally with your Boots pharmacist for availability.