NHS England recently carried out a public consultation on reducing prescribing of over-the-counter medicines for minor, short-term health concerns.
In the year prior to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines which can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy and other outlets such as supermarkets.
These prescriptions include items for a condition:
- That is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal of its own accord;
- Which lends itself to self-care, i.e. that the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical care but may decide to seek help with symptom relief from a local pharmacy and use an over the counter medicine.
Vitamins/minerals and probiotics have also been included in the consultation proposals as items of limited clinical effectiveness which are of high cost to the NHS.
NHS England partnered with NHS Clinical Commissioners to carry out a consultation after CCGs asked for a nationally co-ordinated approach to the development of commissioning guidance in this area to ensure consistency and address unwarranted variation. Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care:
Items of limited clinical effectiveness
Vitamins and minerals
Acute Sore Throat
Infrequent cold sores of the lip
Coughs and colds and nasal congestion
Cradle Cap (Seborrhoeic dermatitis – infants)
Minor Conditions Suitable for Self- Care
Mild Irritant Dermatitis
Dry Eyes/Sore tired Eyes
Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
Indigestion and Heartburn
Insect bites and stings
Mild Dry Skin
Sunburn due to excessive sun exposure
Mild to Moderate Hay fever/Seasonal Rhinitis
Minor burns and scalds
Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/fever. (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain
Prevention of dental caries
Warts and Verrucae
Remember no appointment is necessary to see a pharmacist.
If the pharmacy is closed, contact NHS 111 by dialling 111.