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NHS Minor Ailment Service

What is the NHS minor ailment service?

Everyone can go to their pharmacist for advice or to buy a medicine for a minor illness or ailment. There is a NHS service for people who would not have paid prescription charges under the old system. If your pharmacist thinks you need it then they can give you a medicine on the NHS without you having to pay for it.

Who is the service for?

You can use the NHS Minor Ailment Service if:

  • you are registered with a GP surgery in Scotland, and
  • you are under 16 or under 19 and in full-time education,
  • you are aged 60 years or over,
  • you have a valid maternity exemption certificate, medical exemption certificate, or war pension exemption certificate,you get Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit; and
  • you don’t live in a nursing or residential care home.

How does it work?

You register for the service with the community pharmacy of your choice.

How do I register?

  • You can register for the NHS Minor Ailment Service at a community pharmacy of your choice. You can do this at any time.
  • Your pharmacist will ask you for your name, date of birth, gender, and postcode.
  • Your pharmacist completes a form which you must sign to register for the service.
  • Your pharmacist may ask you for proof of your exemption, for example your maternity or medical exemption certificate or HC2 certificate. Try to remember to bring this information with you if you think you might need to.
  • You can only register with one community pharmacy at a time for the NHS Minor Ailment Service.

What does the service offer?

You can get advice and free treatment from your community pharmacist for minor illnesses and ailments such as:


Athlete’s foot

Back Ache

Cold sores




Ear Ache



Hay fever


Head lice


Mouth ulcers


Period Pain


Sore throat






Nasal Congestion

  • If your pharmacist feels that it is better for you to see your GP then they may refer you directly or tell you to make an appointment with your GP.
  • You will still have to go to your GP if you need a medicine that you can only get on prescription from your GP.

Can I still go to other pharmacies?

Yes. You can still use other pharmacies to buy medicines or to pick up prescriptions.

But remember, you can only use the NHS Minor Ailment Service at the community pharmacy you’ve registered with.

If you want to go to another community pharmacy for the NHS Minor Ailment Service, you can. But you will need to register with the new pharmacy.

How to find out more

For more information contact:

  • your local community pharmacy
  • Your GP or another member of NHS staff involved in your care or
  • The NHS24 Helpline on 111 (calls are free)

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