Self-care is about looking after yourself and taking action to promote wellbeing.

One in five visits to the GP are for common conditions, such as backache, headache or cough. For many people these are not serious health problems and can be managed by self-care. You will want to know how to relieve it and how long you’re going to suffer for and what you should do if your symptoms change. This means you don’t have to spend ages waiting for a GP appointment. Caring for yourself in these situations helps to free up GPs' time, making it easier to get an appointment when you have a more serious condition. Click here for more information on self-care.

The self-care forum has produced a number of useful factsheets to help you take care of the most common conditions.

These help to explain useful facts about common ailments, what you can expect to happen, what you can do to help yourself (both now and in the future) and when to seek help.  NHS Choices is also a good source of information online regarding common ailments and medical conditions. 

Your local community pharmacist is also available to provide advice and recommend appropriate treatments; clinical exceptions apply.

It’s a good idea to purchase some basic medicines so you have them ready if you don’t feel well, such as:

·         Painkillers (ie. paracetamol)

·         Antidiarrhoeal tablets / rehydration salts

·         Indigestion remedies

·         Laxatives

·         Antihistamines

·         Bite or sting relief spray

Click here for more examples of medicines that can be purchased.

Always follow the advice on the information leaflets, never exceed the stated dose and make sure the medicines is not out of date.

WNCCG policy on Self-care

In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines which can be purchased for conditions which are considered to be:

·         self-limiting, ie. do not need medical treatment and will heal on their own accord

·         lend themselves to self-care, ie. advice on symptom relief can be obtained from a local pharmacy and treated with a medicine available to purchase over the counter if necessary

As a result, NHS England have produced guidance on 35 minor conditions for which treatments are available to buy and should not routinely be prescribed by GPs – click here to access the guidance.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are expected to take on this guidance and as such CCGs across Norfolk and Waveney have implemented this guidance – click here for local guidelines.

The aim of this guidance is to create a consistent, national approach and reduce unwarranted variation in prescribing. This will help to ensure that medicines provided by the NHS are those that are proven to be effective and achieve best value for money. 

In West Norfolk over the last year £8,799,777 was spent on treatments for common self-care conditions, this does not include the money and time spent on GP appointments.

Help support your local NHS and chose Self Care

For more information on Prescribing for Situations Not Covered by the NHS click here.

Self-care for your pain

There are several different types of pain usually referred to as acute, chronic or cancer pain. The following resources are available to help manage chronic pain such as low back pain, pain related to arthritis and pain related to injury to a nerve (neuropathic pain).

Chronic pain can cause low mood, irritability, poor sleep and reduced ability to move around. Chronic pain is difficult to treat with most types of treatment helping less than a third of patients. Medicines including opioids (morphine type drugs) are often not very effective for chronic pain especially when taken long term.

To find out more about opioids and chronic pain see below:

Faculty of Pain Medicine: Information for Patients

My Live well with Pain: 10 Opioid Safety Messages

Understanding Pain: Brainman chooses 

Best Advice for people taking Opioid Medication 

If you are taking opioids for chronic pain, you may which to discuss reviewing these with your GP – see ‘Why does my GP want to reduce my pain killers?’

Understanding Pain: Brainman stops his opioids 

Understanding your pain is an important part of managing it. Unfortunately there is no cure to persistent pain but acceptance and not searching for fixes or cures is an important part of controlling your pain. The following short videos and slides may help you to accept and manage your pain:

The Pain Tool Kit: Series of 12 videos to help you learn and understand pain self-management

The Retrain Pain Foundation: 8 lessons on understanding pain

It may be useful to keep a pain diary to identify what makes your pain better or worse and what effect any medication has – these document can be found below.

Physical activity does not usually cause further injury and therefore being more active and building your fitness can help. Also techniques to help manage and balance negative thoughts and emotions can also be useful.

You may find the following resources helpful:

Ways to manage chronic pain

Meditation for pain relief

Active Norfolk

Walk 4 Life

Services are also available locally for self-referral for physiotherapy and psychological support

Self-referral physiotherapy assessment

 Wellbeing service