What is Self Care?

The actions that individuals take for themselves, on behalf of and with others in order to develop, protect, maintain and improve their health, wellbeing or wellness.

From coughs, colds and sore throats to upset stomachs, aches and pains, self-care at home is the best choice to treat every minor illnesses, ailments and injuries.

self care

Self Care Benefits

Empowering people with the confidence and information to look after themselves when they can, and visit the GP when they need to, gives people greater control of their own health and encourages healthy behaviours that help prevent ill health in the long-term. In many cases people can take care of their minor ailments, reducing the number of GP consultations and enabling GPs to focus on caring for higher risk patients, such as those with comorbidities, the very young and elderly, managing long-term conditions and providing new services.

More cost-effective use of stretched NHS resources allows money to be spent where it’s most needed and improve health outcomes. Furthermore, increased personal responsibility around healthcare helps improve people’s health and wellbeing and better manage long-term conditions when they do develop. This will ultimately ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

Quicker, easier and simple! 

Quicker: 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.

Easier: 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.

Simple: 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. 


Self Care

What happens if you give up on self-care?

Despite people’s willingness to initially self-treat, there are still 57 million GP consultations a year for minor ailments at a total cost to the NHS of £2 billion, which takes up, on average, an hour a day for every GP.

Research shows that people often abandon self care earlier than they need to, typically seeking the advice of a doctor within a period of 4-7 days. The main reasons for this are:

• Lack of confidence in understanding the normal progress of symptoms (e.g. a cold can last up to 14 days)

• The perceived severity and duration of symptoms

• Reassurance that nothing more serious is wrong

• A prescription to ‘cure’ the illness, even though the same medicine may be available over-the-counter

Choose self care for life

Preparing to self-care 

With the NHS's 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 plenty of resources and information available to support you, to help manage minor illnesses. 

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

medicine cabinet

Useful Tips:


Aspirin, paracetamol and ibuprofen are highly effective at relieving most minor aches and pains.


Useful for dealing with allergies, insect bites and hay fever.

Oral rehydration salts:

Oral rehydration salts can help restore your body's natural balance of minerals and fluid lost through diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting - if you can't continue your normal diet.

Indigestion treatment:

If you have stomach ache, heartburn or trapped wind, a simple antacid will reduce stomach acidity and bring relief.

Anti-diarrhoea tablets

It's a good idea to keep anti-diarrhoea medicine at home as diarrhoea can happen without warning. causes include food poisoning and a stomach virus.

Sun cream

Keep a sun cream of at least factor 15, with UVA protection. Exposure to the sun can cause sunburn and increase your risk of skin cancer.

What if my symptoms don’t improve?

use the right service



Some common conditions that people seek GP appointments for will get better within a short time or can be treated with over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy. 
For a wide range of minor ailments, your local pharmacist should be your first point-of-call because: 

  • You don’t need an appointment 
  • There are no waiting times 
  • You will see a clinician with expertise in minor ailments and their treatment 
  • You can have privacy if you would like it 
  • You can leave with appropriate treatment or therapy and guidance on how to use it

Pharmacists are medical experts and are able to offer advice and over-the-counter treatments for minor ailments like aches and pains, coughs and colds, infections and viruses, allergies, minor injuries, skin conditions and more, saving a visit to the doctor’s surgery.

GP Surgery

Upton Surgery

General Practitioners (GPs) deal with a whole range of health problems and hold your primary medical record. Patients registered with a GP surgery can book appointments and request repeat prescriptions online and via the NHS App

Do not attend your GP practice in person unless told to do so by your practice. If a face-to-face appointment is necessary, you will be advised on what to do. GP practices have measures in place to minimise any risk from coronavirus.

If your doctor decides to refer you to a hospital for an outpatient appointment, in most cases you can choose to go anywhere in England and can expect to be treated within 18 weeks of the referral.

You can also choose a specific consultant if appropriate, and may be referred to a private provider of health services outside the NHS at no cost to yourself.

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 is the NHS non-emergency number. It’s fast, easy and free.

NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Or you can seek online help at NHS Online.

NHS 111 online uses the same clinical algorithms as the 111 phone service, taking you through questions about your symptoms to receive tailored advice on what to do next and where to go.

The advisors can also arrange face-to-face appointments, and if you are assessed as needing an ambulance, one will be sent directly.

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.


The NHS website is the online 'front door' to the NHS. It is the country's biggest health website and gives all the information you need to make choices about your health.

Visit the NHS Website

Out of Hours and Emergency


Minor Injuries Units/Walk-in Centres

Minor Injuries Units/Walk-in Centres offer help with a range of injuries and ailments including simple breaks, earache, sore throats, children’s illnesses, minor head injuries, burns and even emergency contraception.

There are a number of minor injury units available across Herefordshire and Worcestershire. They offer help with a range of injuries including simple breaks, sprains, minor head injuries, burns and cuts. For more information and opening times, visit Worcestershire's MIU page or Herefordshire's MIU page.


The 999 service is for critical emergencies that are potentially life-threatening. These include:

    • Loss of consciousness
    • Severe chest pain
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Severe bleeding that can’t be stopped
    • Acute confusion states or fits that are not stopping
    • Signs of a stroke
Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website