On this page you will find information about prescriptions, whether you need a prescription and advice on looking after yourself.
What is a prescription?
A prescription is an instruction written by a medical professional (GP or prescribing nurse) to a pharmacist to prepare a particular medication for a patient. You will usually receive a prescription from your GP practice or from the hospital. A pharmacy will then prepare the medication for you based on the instructions in the prescription.
Although most NHS treatment is free for UK residents at the point of delivery, you may need to pay for prescriptions, depending on what treatment you need and your personal circumstances.
Do I need a prescription?
Many people visit their GP for help with minor health problems that a local pharmacist could resolve.
It’s estimated 50 million visits to the GP are made every year for minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot.
Instead of booking and waiting for a GP appointment, you can visit your local pharmacist any time – just walk in.
Pharmacists can recognise many common health complaints. They can give advice or, where appropriate, medicines that will help clear up the problem. If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP instead.
What’s more, many pharmacies are open in the evenings and on the weekends.
If everybody went to a pharmacist with common health problems, more time would be freed up for our GPs. This might make it easier to get a convenient appointment with your GP next time you need one.
You can read more about how pharmacists can help with common illnesses here.
You may also find useful:
- Learn how to Stay Well this winter
- Read about how you can order repeat prescriptions online
- Find out about getting help with prescription costs
- Read our news stories related to prescriptions
- Read about our antibiotic guardian campaign
- See what to keep in your medicine cabinet at home