The NHS Minor Ailment Service at your local pharmacy

A patient information leaflet on the Minor Ailment Service, explaining who is eligible, what is provided and how it can be accessed.

The NHS Minor Ailment Service at your local pharmacy: Information for patients

What is the NHS Minor Ailment Service?

  • The Minor Ailment Service is an NHS service for children, people aged 60 or over, people who hold a medical exemption certificate and people on certain benefits.
  • When you are registered for the Minor Ailment Service, your pharmacist can give you medicine for a minor illness or complaint, if they think you need it. You will not have to pay for this.

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 60 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, Universal Credit or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit, or
    • you are named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid HC2 certificate.

You can't use the NHS Minor Ailment Service if you live in a care home.

How do I register for the service?

The NHS Minor Ailment Service is available from pharmacies across Scotland.

  • You can choose which pharmacy to register with.
  • You can register at any time - you don't have to make an appointment.
  • When you register, your pharmacist may ask you for some information, including your name, date of birth and postcode.
  • They will also check whether you can use the NHS Minor Ailment Service and may ask you for proof, for example your maternity or medical exemption certificate. Try to remember to bring this proof with you.
  • Your pharmacist will complete a form, which you must sign.
  • Your pharmacist will complete a separate form for each member of your family, including children under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education.
  • You can only register for the service with one pharmacy at a time. If you register with a new pharmacy, you will no longer be registered at the old pharmacy.

While you are registered for the service you can still make an appointment to see your doctor whenever you like.

  • Remember that even if you can't use this free service, you can go to your pharmacist for advice or to buy a medicine for a minor illness or complaint.
  • If your pharmacist feels it is better for you to see your GP, they may refer you directly or ask you to make an appointment with your GP.

How does the service work?

  • You will be able to get advice and free treatment (if you need it) from your pharmacist for minor illnesses and complaints, such as:
    • acne
    • athlete's foot
    • backache
    • cold sores
    • constipation
    • cough pain
    • diarrhoea
    • earache
    • eczema and allergies
    • haemorrhoids (piles)
    • hay fever
    • headache
    • head lice
    • indigestion
    • mouth ulcers
    • nasal congestion
    • period pain
    • thrush
    • sore throat
    • threadworms
    • warts and verrucae
  • Your pharmacist, like your doctor, can only give out certain medicines and products. You may not get the medicine or product you would normally buy.

Can I still go to other pharmacies?

  • Yes, you can go to any pharmacy to buy medicines or collect other prescriptions. However, you will need to go to the pharmacy you have registered with to use the service.

What if I'm unhappy about the service I have received from the pharmacy?

  • If you can, first talk to the pharmacist so they can try to sort out your complaint immediately.
  • If you can't complain directly to the pharmacist, or you do not wish to, you can contact your local NHS board to find out who can help you with your complaint. More information, and a feedback and complaints factsheet, is available from NHS Inform. You can call them on 0800 22 44 88 or visit the website at

How to find out more

For more information about anything in this leaflet, contact:

  • your local pharmacy
  • your doctor or a member of NHS staff involved in your care
  • the NHS Inform Helpline on 0800 22 44 88 (calls from a landline are free), or
  • your local citizens advice bureau (find your nearest bureau on the internet at or in your local phone book).


Email: Elaine Muirhead

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