Minor Illness

Get the Right Treatment

Get the Right Treatment

Every year, millions of us visit our GP with minor health problems that can be easily resolved without a doctor’s appointment.

It is estimated that every year, 50 million visits to the GP are made for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema, and athlete’s foot. By visiting your pharmacy instead, you could save yourself time and trouble.


Keeping a well stocked medicine cabinet at home can help you treat many minor ailments. Colds, coughs, indigestion and many other minor complaints can all be treated with medicines that are available over the counter.

Your pharmacist can advise on what you might find useful to keep in your medicine cabinet. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label and consult your doctor if the illness continues or becomes more severe.

Your Local Pharmacist

Pharm refer is a local pharmacy service who you could be referred to from our practice if it is suitable to do so such as ‘cough’.

Pharmacists offer professional free health advice at any time – you don’t need an appointment. From coughs and colds to aches and pains, they can give you expert help on everyday illnesses. They can answer questions about prescribed and over-the-counter medicines. Your local Pharmacist can also advise on healthy eating. 

Pharmacists can also advise on health eating, obesity and giving up smoking. Some pharmacists have private areas where you can talk in confidence. They may suggest you visit your GP for more serious symptoms. It is possible to purchase many medicines from the chemist without a prescription.  Watch this short video on how you can get the most out of your local pharmacy

NHS Walk-In Centres

NHS Walk-In Centres offer convenient access to a range of NHS services for patients based in England only. You can receive treatment for many ailments including:

  • infection and rashes,
  • fractures and lacerations,
  • emergency contraception and advice,
  • stomach upsets,
  • cuts and bruises, or
  • burns and strains.

NHS Walk In Centres treat around 3m patients a year and have proved to be a successful complementary service to traditional GP and A&E services. Some centres offer access to doctors as well as nurses. However, they are not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.

Accident & Emergency (A&E)

Major A&E departments assess and treat patients who have serious injuries or illnesses. Generally, you should visit A&E or call 999 for emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness,
  • pain that is not relieved by simple analgesia,
  • acute confused state,
  • persistent, severe chest pain, or
  • breathing difficulties.

If you’re injured or seriously ill, you should go, or be taken, to A&E. If an ambulance is needed you can call 999, the emergency phone number in the UK. You can also dial 112, which is the equivalent for the European Union.

Major A&E departments offer access 365 days a year and usually open 24 hours a day. Be aware that not all hospitals have an A&E department.

Minor ailments


Ensure you are safe, stop the burning process, remove any clothing over or near the burn (unless stuck to the skin), then cool the burn with cool or tepid running water for 20 minutes or so. Use copious amounts of water if a chemical burn. Do not use ice or very cold water. Keep the person warm. Apply layers of cling film (do not wrap around)  or a clean plastic bag if cling film unavailable. Do not apply butter or oily products. Paracetamol or ibuprofen may be given. If the affected area is small (less than palm of hand) and not blistered (or only minimal) you may be happy to manage at home.  Otherwise attend A&E  or see us urgently for further help.


This condition will often clear without a prescription. Bathing the eye regularly with tepid water or using lubricant eye drops from the chemist may help. If you are concerned that your vision may be affected, we would be happy to see you and advise.

Note: it is not necessary to exclude a child from school or childcare unless there is an outbreak of several cases – as advised by Public Health England (Health Protection Agency/HPA)

Cough, Colds and Flu

These conditions usually start with a runny nose, cough , temperature and aches. They are caused by viruses and antibiotics are of no use in their treatment. Rest, take plenty of fluids and if you have a headache or are feverish, then take recommended doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen. We are happy to see or advise you if you are very unwell or the illness persists.

Please see also, advice regarding Temperature and Sore Throats, as below.

Note: aspirin must not be given to children under 16.

Diarrhoea and Vomiting

Most cases of diarrhoea are caused by a virus caught by contact with other people. Some are caused by bacteria and less commonly, contaminated food (‘food poisoning’). Diarrhoea will usually settle within 5-7 days and vomiting within 2-3 days. It does not usually cause any serious harm.


The most important thing is fluid – drink little and often eg. plain water. Dioralyte and similar drinks can be bought at the chemist without a prescription if wished.

Eat normally. Do not starve yourself.

Paracetamol can help the gripey pain.

Anti-diarrhoeal treatments eg. Imodium, Kaolin and Morphine, Lomotil can make the illness last LONGER, so are NOT advised.

Maintain personal hygiene, disinfect surfaces, avoid food preparation for others and do not share personal items eg. towels. Do not swim for 2 weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea or vomiting.

Head Injuries

It is usual for a child or adult to complain from a mild headache after a bump to the head and to develop a bruise. This can safely be treated with paracetamol. Medical attention (usually, by going to A&E) should be sought if: persistent/severe/worsening headache, or irritability/altered behaviour in a child under 5, or if the patient was ‘knocked out’ or had a fit or cannot remember the accident, or if vomiting, drowsiness or blurred or double vision develops.


This is a community wide problem.  Regular checking of all the family members’ hair is important in the detection and control of head lice.  Lice are most easily detected by fine tooth combing really wet shampooed and conditioned hair from the roots in sections.  If no lice can be found by careful combing there is no need to consider applying head lice treatments even if there have been cases reported in school.  If head lice are discovered your school nurse, health visitor or pharmacist will be able to give advice and recommend lotions and rinses which are specially made to kill lice and their eggs quickly and safely.           

Nose Bleeds 

In the event of a nose bleed pinch the soft, fleshy part of the nose (below the bone) firmly for 6 or 7 minutes.  The application of an ice pack or cold compress over the bridge of the nose or forehead may help.  If the bleeding persists repeat as above until it stops.  In the rare event of these measures failing, it would be advisable to go to the Accident and Emergency department for further help.

Sore Throats

Sore throat is usually self limiting and most patients will get better within a week. It may help to rest, drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol or ibuprofen at recommended doses. If you are very unwell, or the illness is persistent , or in certain medical circumstances, we MAY offer antibiotics for delayed or immediate use after we have assessed the situation in surgery.

Temperature /Feverish Illness in Children

Consider either paracetamol or ibuprofen in children with fever who are distressed. Do not use these agents simply to reduce body temperature if the child is otherwise comfortable. Encourage rest and fluids. Tepid sponging is no longer recommended. Do not under-dress or over –wrap the child. Look out for dehydration, non blanching rash and check the child during the night. Keep at home whilst the fever persists. If using paracetamol or ibuprofen:

  • Only continue as long as the child seems distressed.
  • Consider trying the other agent if distress is not alleviated
  • Do not given both agents simultaneously
  • Only consider alternating these agents if distress persists or recurs before the next dose is due

Seek help if you are worried about the child’s condition, or if the child has a fit or a non blanching rash, or is deteriorating (even after previous advice) or if fever lasts for more than 5 days.

Note: all babies under 3 months of age with a temperature above 38oC, or age 3-6 months with a temperature above 39oC, should be urgently assessed by a doctor.

(NICE: Feverish illness in children May 2013)


This harmless infestation is very common particularly in pre-school children.   Worms may be noted in stools or cause severe anal itching at night.  Effective treatment can be purchased from the chemist or we will provide a prescription, usually without seeing the child.                                                                

First Aid

First Aid – MP3 Downloads

To save them on your computer, right-click on any of the links below and then click ‘Save Target As…” .  Click on any of the links below to play the audio files: 

Burns – Explains the immediate treatment for burns and scalds.

Fits  – How to deal with fits (convulsions/seizures) in adults and young children.

Wounds   – Immediate actions for wounds, bleeding, and bleeding associated with fractures.

Unconscious patient who is breathing – How to deal with an unrousable patient who IS breathing (includes recovery position)

CPR for adults –  Adults who have collapsed, unrousable and NOT breathing.

CPR for babies – Babies who are unrousable and NOT breathing.

Collapsed patient in detail –  Explains the complete scenario including checks for breathing, circulation, etc.

These files have been prepared by Sussex Ambulance Service and comply with European Resuscitation Council Guidelines.

Other Links

British Red Cross – First Aid Tips
Simple, straightforward and easy to understand first aid tips

St Johns Ambulance
St John Ambulance believes that everyone should learn at least the basic first aid techniques.

These links all come from trusted resources but if you are unsure about these or any other medical matters please contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Coughs & Colds

Coughs & Colds

A cold is a mild viral infection of the nose, throat, sinuses and upper airways. It can cause nasal stuffiness, a runny nose, sneezing, a sore throat and a cough. Usually it’s a self-limiting infection – this means it gets better by itself without the need for treatment.

On average, adults have two to five colds each year and school-age children can have up to eight colds a year. Adults who come into contact with children tend to get more colds. This is because children usually carry more of the virus, for longer.

In the UK, you’re more likely to get a cold during the winter months although the reasons why aren’t fully understood at present.

Treatment of a cold

For most people, a cold will get better on its own within a week of the symptoms starting without any specific treatment. However, there are treatments that can help to ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. These are available from your pharmacy, which means that you can treat yourself, rather than needing to see your GP.

There is no cure for colds. Antibiotics, which treat infections caused by bacteria, don’t work on cold viruses.


There are a number of self-help measures that may help to ease the symptoms of a cold.

  • Drinking enough fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Steam inhalations with menthol, salt water nasal sprays or drops may be helpful.
  • Vapour rubs may help relieve symptoms for children.
  • Hot drinks (particularly with lemon), hot soups and spicy foods can help to ease irritation and pain in your throat.
  • Sucking sweets or lozenges which contain menthol or eucalyptus may sooth your throat.
  • Gargling with salt water may help a sore throat.

You should try to make sure you get enough rest if you have a cold. It’s not usually necessary to stay off work or school.

Colds & Flu
A factsheet on the causes, symptoms, treatment & prevention of colds & the flu

NHS Choices – is it the common cold or the flu?
Colds and flu can share some of the same symptoms (sneezing, coughing, sore throat) but are caused by different viruses, and flu can be much more serious. Find out

Factsheet – Common Cold
Information about the diagnosis, treatment and symptoms of the common cold


Family Planning

Emergency Contraception

If you need emergency contraception please tell the receptionist what the appointment is for. She will arrange an urgent appointment. Please see further information later under self treatment of common illnesses and accidents.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is available to prevent pregnancy after having unprotected sex, or if a method of contraception has failed.

There are 3 options:

  1. Emergency (‘morning after’) pill Levonelle. This can be used up to 3 days (72 hours) post unprotected sex.
  2. Emergency (‘morning after’) pill ellaOne. This can be used to 5 days (120 hours) post unprotected sex.
  3. Emergency copper IUD (coil).This is a small plastic and copper device that can be fitted into your womb by our trained GPs. It can be used up to 5 days (120 hours) post unprotected sex or within 5 days of ovulation (release of an egg).

Note: The most effective method is the copper IUD which prevents at least 99% of pregnancies. The pills are slightly less effective. ellaOne may be slightly better that Levonelle in some circumstances, but may not be the emergency pill of choice in others. Your GP will be able to advise. Pills are probably best taken as soon as you can, rather than delaying to near the time limit. Therefore, we are happy to fit you in as an Urgent appointment – so inform the receptionist that you require emergency contraception. On occasion, we may be able to advise you via a telephone consultation.

Note: Levonelle can be purchased from most pharmacies for approx £25. Some pharmacies may be able to offer it free. Out of hours /weekends etc – contact 111 for advice from a GP/nurse. Also, emergency contraception is available from walk in centres, contraception clinics, Brook clinics and Young persons’ clinics.

Confidentiality & Under 16’s

All aspects of consultations and treatments at the surgery are confidential.  Patients can be assured that all staff have a legal duty of confidence and are fully trained in this aspect.  This applies whether you are over or under 16.  If you are under 16 you may attend an appointment with the doctor or nurse without your parent or guardian if you wish. You may be reassured that your consultation will “go no further”. If you are under 16 the doctor or nurse may encourage you to discuss your visit to the surgery with your parent or guardian. Rarely, if you are considered to be at risk or in danger, the doctor or nurse may have a duty to disclose such information in order to offer appropriate healthcare and support.