Minor Ailments Scheme

Self-care Pharmacy First for people on low income: Pilot scheme

The Minor Ailments Schemes running in Camden, Haringey & Islington (CHI) have been updated in line with NHS England Guidance. The new scheme “Self-care Pharmacy First for people on low income” launches as a pilot from 1 July 2021 until 31 January 2022.

Aim of the service

The aim of the service is to provide timely access to supply of medicines for the management of minor conditions. The service is available for socially vulnerable patients in Camden, Haringey or Islington who are unable to purchase over the counter (OTC) medicines due to low income and so are unable to self-care.

Self-care is recommended as the first line option as recommended in the national guidance on the prescribing of over the counter medicines. The service will support GPs with the implementation of the NHS England OTC guidance, maximise use of the community pharmacy whilst ensuring that the most deprived sections of the population receive the advice and treatment they require.

The service will be provided by agreed community pharmacies in Camden, Haringey and Islington to patients who are registered with GP practices in these three boroughs.

Patients who usually make an appointment to see their GP for minor conditions can instead visit their pharmacy to receive advice and treatment.

Conditions included in the service

The following conditions are included in the service:

  • Athlete’s foot
  • Back pain
  • Constipation (age > 12)
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dyspepsia and indigestion
  • Earache
  • Fever / headache
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Hay fever, allergic rhinitis and allergies
  • Head lice
  • Minor injuries
  • Nappy rash
  • Ringworm
  • Teething
  • Threadworm
  • Vaginal thrush
  • Warts and verrucas

The consultation and medicines supply

  • The service should only be offered by the community pharmacy where there is a definite need for a medicine and the patient cannot afford to pay (in line with eligibility criteria). Any medicines supplied by the pharmacy will from an agreed formulary and free of charge for patients who are eligible to receive free prescriptions in categories relating to income.
  • The patient must be currently exhibiting symptoms, this service cannot be used for patients who are requesting medicines on a ’just in case’ basis.
  • The consultation with the patient will be carried out by the pharmacist or by a suitably trained member of staff. The emphasis in the consultation will be on advice and information. Self-care advice may include referring the patient to sources of information to support self-care of a minor illness and may also cover relevant healthy lifestyle advice.
  • If the pharmacist feels that the patient is presenting with symptoms that require further investigation and treatment, then the pharmacist will refer the patient to their GP, walk-in centre, or to A&E, depending on the nature and urgency of the condition.

Formulary and treatment protocols

Any medicines supplied by the pharmacy will from an agreed formulary and all consultations with patients will follow current best practice in line with NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries (CKS).

  • For formulary and conditions click here
  • For protocols follow NICE CKS

Access to the service

  • Patients wishing to make use of the service simply need to register for the scheme with the community pharmacy (CP).
  • Patients registered with the previous Minor Ailments Schemes will need to re-register with the community pharmacy for this revised service

Social vulnerability – eligibility criteria

Patients are eligible to receive this service if they receive free prescriptions in categories relating to income. An additional category (which is not based on income) is for young people aged 16, 17, or 18 and in full time education, part-time education or undertaking an accredited apprenticeship.


  • Patients aged under 16 years who have at least 1 parent who would be eligible for this service
  • Patients who are receiving Universal Credit and whose income is at a level where they are eligible for free prescriptions.
  • Patients receiving any other benefits which give them eligibility for free prescriptions:
    • NHS Low Income Scheme and are in possession of a valid HC2 certificate.
    • Income Support (IS) or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
    • Tax Credit exemption certificate
    • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Young people aged 16,17 or 18 years and in full or part-time education or undertaking an accredited level 1 apprenticeship
  • Homeless & in possession of local authority ‘Letter of homelessness’

Not eligible

  • Age related categories for under 16 years and over 60 years of age
  • Current medical exemption certificate
  • Current maternity exemption certificate
  • Current pre- payment certificates

The PSNC website has a useful list of evidence that can be used to confirm eligibility for the income-based exemptions.

Pharmacists should use their professional discretion to ascertain suitable evidence for young people in part-time education, apprenticeships or for homeless people.

Please note, this list is subject to update.

Patient information Leaflet