Self Care - what is it?

Self-care refers to the actions we take to recognise, treat and manage our own health. It’s about doing small, everyday things for yourself to keep healthy and happy.

What are the benefits?

With tens of millions of GP consultations across the UK every year used to discuss conditions that could be treated at home, self-care has an important role to play in the sustainability of the NHS. Self-care also provides greater flexibility to our population and ensures more appropriate use of valuable GP time. We are committed to doing all we can across Walsall to support patients on improving their understanding of medicines and how to look after themselves if and when they suffer from a minor ailment or condition.

Self-care is good for both you and the NHS, and there are lots of benefits. We believe it’s…

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No need to wait for a GP appointment. You can buy the medicines you need over the counter at your local pharmacy or supermarket and have them ready to use at home.

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Many treatments can be bought without the need for a prescription at your local pharmacy or supermarket, often for much less than a prescription charge.

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Advice and information about self-care is widely available online. You can also call into any pharmacy for advice on the best treatment for your minor illnesses

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Self-care helps relieve pressures on GP practices, A&E and could potentially save the NHS around £136m every year!

Self Care Button Board...

Before heading to your local pharmacist or on to 111 Online, click the link below to view our button board! This will show you a long list of minor illnesses that can, and should, be treated through Self Care where possible. From Acne to Travel Sickness, have a read through to find out how to manage your condition.

Click here to view our Self Care Button Board.

Practices – click here for access to Self-care resources that you can use

Get better without Antibiotics...

The leaflet available to view below explains the need to get the right treatment for common illnesses such as colds and coughs without encouraging antibiotic resistance. It’s important to understand that taking antibiotics encourages harmful bacteria that live inside you to become resistant. That means that antibiotics may not work when you really need them. This puts you and your family at risk of a more severe or longer illness.

Get Well Soon without Antibiotics – Leaflet
Keep Antibiotics Working – Leaflet

Preparing to self-care

Be prepared and stock up your medicine cabinet. These affordable key items will help when you, or your family and friends, are feeling under the weather…


  • Pain killers
  • Cold and flu remedies
  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Anti-diarrhoea medication
  • Oral re-hydration salts
  • Indigestion remedies

First Aid:

  • Bandages
  • Plasters
  • Thermometer
  • Antiseptic
  • Eyewash solution
  • Sterile dressing
  • Tweezers

Where can I go for advice?

With the NHS’s recent understanding that self-care plays such an important role in ensuring the sustainability of our national health service, as well as the ongoing health of our population, there are now plenty of resources and information available to support you, to help manage minor illnesses…



Pharmacists are trained professionals who are ready to give advice on the best treatment for minor conditions (shown right).

Most pharmacies offer a private consultation room where they can offer confidential advice. Furthermore, pharmacists can talk you through your symptoms and offer advice and reassurance about how long these may last and what to do if they continue or get worse.

Alastair Buxton, head of NHS services at the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, says: “…Pharmacists are the ultimate self-care supporting professionals. Self-care has always been important to pharmacy but now it has moved up the political agenda…”.  Two particular current priorities are care of long-term conditions and patient choice: self-care is central to both so pharmacists will have a key role in delivering them.

To find your nearest Pharmacy, visit the NHS Service Finder.

Pharmacy Illness list for Self Care

NHS 111

You should use the NHS 111 service if you urgently need medical help or advice but it’s not a life-threatening situation. When you call 111, an adviser will ask you some questions to help assess your symptoms. Once they have done this they will offer you advice, or direct you to the best service for you in the local area.

111 will help you if:

  • You need health information or reassurance about what to do next
  • You need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency
  • You think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
  • You don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP to call
  • You have a dental issue and can’t get into your dentist. 111 will be able to point you in the direction of your nearest emergency dental centre

As well as their phone assistance, NHS 111 has recently introduced their online service which is available by clicking here. Through this website, you simply need to enter your postcode, enter a few personal details about yourself or the person you’re seeking help for, and then type in what symptoms you’re currently feeling. It’s a simple guide which is easy to navigate, and could also refer you onto which type of healthcare service you may require.

To find out more about the NHS 111 service, such as their Privacy Policy or how to leave both Feedback and Complaints, visit the NHS website here.

Sign Language

NHS 111 offers a video relay service that allows you to make a video call to a British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter. The BSL interpreter will call an NHS 111 adviser on your behalf and you’re then able to have a real-time conversation with the NHS 111 adviser, via the interpreter.

Visit NHS 111 BSL interpreter service for more details.

Prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing...

Alongside the NHS encouragement towards self-care, it’s recently been introduced that the prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing. Your GP, nurse or pharmacist will not generally give you a prescription for over the counter medicines for a range of minor health concerns. Instead, over the counter medicines are available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket in your local community.

Why does the NHS need to reduce prescriptions for
over the counter medicines?
The NHS has been spending around £136 million a year on
prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy
or supermarket, such as paracetamol. By reducing the amount the
NHS spends on over the counter medicines, we can give priority to
treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer,
diabetes and mental health problems.

For more information regarding this matter, you can access our Downloadable PDF leaflets produced by NHS England below.

NHS England Self-Care Leaflet
NHS England Self-Care Leaflet – Easy Read
NHS England Self-Care Leaflet – Handout

Be Self-Care aware Infographic

Branded vs Generic Self-care

When people first come into contact with the idea of self-care, one of their first reactions is the questioning of the cost. In this mindset, people tend to automatically assume that they’ll be paying over the odds for their medication, compared to when they were able to get certain items on prescription. However, this doesn’t have to be the case, as supermarkets now offer most forms of medication, which are non-branded, that possess a much lower price tag. This is ultimately because, unlike the pharmaceutical companies who own and patent brand-name medicines, manufacturers who sell the generic version don’t have to contend with the expenses of developing and marketing a new drug. There may be non-active ingredients (or so-called ‘excipients’ – such as sugar, flavouring, and colouring) which will probably be different from the ones used in branded medication, but these won’t have much effect on the way the medication works in your body.

Below are some examples of how much cheaper paying for non-branded medication could be, with prices taken from the first week of April 2019, and the brands and supermarkets blanked out for product displacement purposes…