If you live in certain parts of the country and don’t pay prescription charges(i.e. during and after pregnancy, children up to 16, the over 60’s) you could be getting free over-the-counter medicines, i.e. medicines that you don’t need a prescription for. It’s called the minor ailment scheme.
Minor Ailment Scheme
The minor ailment scheme is basically a resource that lets you get over the counter medicines without a prescription from participating pharmacies. The reasoning behind the scheme is that minor conditions often don’t require a GP visit. However people attend the GP’s just to try and get a prescription and access to the free medicines. This takes up a lot of the GP’s time and that is why the scheme was brought in.
With this scheme the pharmacist can recommend a medicine and it can be given to you for free. They usually report back to your GP what has been given out so it does stay on your medical record.
The bad news
It is not available in every area of the country. I believe it’s available in the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland, but in England and Wales it’s dependent on the local Primary Care Trust(PCT). However, there are calls to bring this in nationally as research by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society suggests it could save the NHS £1 billion a year.
As such, more and more PCT’s are bringing this scheme in. Unfortunately, I cannot find an easy way of finding out in which areas the scheme is running. Infact when we recently went to our GP surgery to ask about it, they knew nothing about the scheme. However, 10 miles down the road in Milton Keynes the PCT is running the scheme.
How to find out if it’s available in your area
You can try and contact your GP and find out, but it might be difficult to get through to them. I was hoping Boots would have it on their website, but although they do mention the service it doesn’t show up as a service when using the store locator. Thankfully Rowlands Pharmacy do list the minor ailment service on their website. All you need to do is use their store locator and if the local stores offer a minor ailment service then it is eligible in your area. There is one caveat to this. As far as I understand it, the service is linked to the area in which you are registered with your GP. As such, if I use the Rowlands service it says my local one doesn’t offer the service, but Milton Keynes which is on the list does. As I understand it I will not be able to go to the Milton Keynes pharmacy and use the scheme.
I hope this helps you
I hope this article will be helpful to some of you as this scheme does not seem to be very well advertised and I know we have spent a lot of money on Calpol, Ibuprofen and the like, when in actual fact this could have been free.