How to get the Right Treatment

If you feel unwell or need some advice about your health, there are a number of places you can go. Read the information below to help decide what to do.


There are lots of ways you can look after yourself if you feel unwell. A well-stocked medicine cabinet will help you treat everyday illnesses at home. You should have paracetamol, plasters and bandages, a thermometer, antiseptic, and other medicines for coughs, colds and sore throats. Always follow the instructions on the medicine label, or if in any doubt contact your GP or pharmacist/chemist.

All healthcare professionals are equipped to support you with a range of self-help advice and information. For further information contact your local GP practice or visit the NHS 24 advice website:

NHS 24

NHS 24 is a 24-hour telephone health advice and information service. You can phone NHS 24 on 111 (Textphone 18001 111) at any time of the day or night. NHS 24 can give you:

  • advice about what to do if you, or someone you look after, is not well
  • information about health conditions
  • information about local NHS services, such as how to find your nearest pharmacist/chemist, GP surgery, dentist, optician, or Accident and Emergency department

For more information on NHS 24 and pharmacy/chemist opening times, visit the NHS 24 website at


Your local pharmacist/chemist can give advice on common health problems and can answer questions about medicines. Many pharmacists/chemists provide other services such as treating minor ailments, checking the different medicines you are taking, or giving advice about health issues including sexual health and stopping smoking. Ask to speak to your pharmacist/chemist in a private area if there is something you don't want other people to hear. If your symptoms are serious, your pharmacist/chemist might suggest you should go to your GP. To find a pharmacy/chemist which is open out of hours phone NHS 24 on 111.

GP Surgeries

For medical advice and treatment or prescriptions you can make an appointment at your GP surgery. Surgeries vary in size and can have a wide range of staff as well as GPs, including nurses, health visitors, district nurses, counsellors, physiotherapists, community psychiatric nurses and podiatrists. Surgeries run special clinics for people with diabetes, asthma and other health conditions. Ask at your local surgery for an information leaflet about the services which they provide. A list of surgeries in your area is available on this website. For help with registering with a doctor, phone 0131 537 8488 or visit the NHS Lothian website at:

Out-of-Hours GP Services

Out of hours GP services are available between 6.30pm and 8am on weekdays, at the weekend, and on public holidays. These services provide help when your GP surgery is closed and your condition is too serious to wait until the next day. To contact GP services out of hours, call NHS 24 on 111.

Who is the best person to see?

You do not always need to see your doctor if you are not feeling well or if you need a check up. There are other staff, such as the practice nurse, who can help you. If the receptionist asks you why you need an appointment he or she is usually trying to decide who is the best person for you to see.

Practice Nurses/Treatment Room Nurses

Many GP surgeries have a practice nurse and a treatment room nurse. Treatment room nurses are often the best people to give injections and deal with minor injuries and wounds. Practice nurses are often specially trained to deal with conditions such as asthma, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Ask at your practice who is the best person to see you. You may also see a phlebotomist (someone who is trained to take blood samples) if you need to have a blood sample taken.

Health Visitors

Health visitors offer parenting support to parents and children, with a focus on the under fives. They can also assist you at every stage of your life to stay healthy and independent and can refer you for equipment, benefits, home care and medical services. Ask at your GP practice for more details.

District Nurses

District nurses provide nursing services in people's homes for people who are housebound or have difficulty moving. For example they deal with leg wounds and leg ulcers. They can also access special equipment and services for you. For more information contact your GP practice.

Nurse Counsellors

Nurse counsellors are nurses who specialise in counselling and mental health. They can talk to you about any difficulties you may be having, for example if you are experiencing stress, and help you to feel better. Speak to your doctor if you think you would like to see a nurse counsellor.

Last Reviewed: 02/05/2014