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We're asking you to think about how you can use your NHS services better. There are three things that you can do to make your services fit for the future:

Picking the right service when you need help 

Every time you make a visit to an NHS service there is a cost to the NHS. You might not know it but many people still go to the wrong service when they need help. For example, booking an appointment at their GP practice for a common minor illness such as a cough, cold or hayfever when you can look after yourself and get support from pharmacies and the NHS Choices website - 

It's important to pick the right service so that you are treated in the right place, at the right time. It also helps your NHS plan better and make your services fit for the future. 



Find local services

A - Z of health conditions

NHS Data

Manage common minor illnesses yourself

One of the best ways to manage common minor illnesses yourself. It doesn't mean that you are on your own. You can get support from pharmacists - they are experts in medicines and minor ailments. You can also use the NHS Choices website - which has lots of advice, including an A-Z of conditions. 

Common minor illnesses and ailments you can manage yourself, include:


cough head lice sore throat

athlete's foot

diarrhoea indigestion / heartburn sprains and strains

back ache

dry skin infant colic teething

blocked nose (including infant)

earache insect bites / stings  temperature / fever
cold sores ear wax migraine  threadworms
common cold eczema mouth ulcers toothache
conjunctivitis haemorrhoids nappy rash vaginal thrush 
constipation hayfever oral thrush verruca / warts
contact dermatitis headache short term mild pain  

If your condition persists or if you have a long term acute condition, you should speak to your GP practice for further advice.

Find local services

A - Z of health conditions

NHS Data

Cancel your appointment if you no longer need it

On average, 1 in every 10 appointments made in NHS services are not attended by patients. Missed appointments are a huge cost to your NHS. Each missed hospital appointment costs an average of £160 and each missed GP appointment costs around £45*. Across the whole NHS, the cost of missed appointments comes to over £300 million every year


If you don't need your appointment, it's important to cancel it as soon as you can so that it can be offered to somebody else who needs it. You will also be saving money for your NHS which means it can be put in to developing your services for the future.  

One of the easiest ways to manage your GP appointments is to use Patient Online - an online service which allows you to book and cancel appointments online, anytime. You can find out more about Patient Online and how to register here. 

It's also helpful if you keep your address and contact details up to date so that letters and reminders are sent to the right place. 

*including prescription administration charges