Over the Counter

Change to prescribing over the counter medicines

Wiltshire CCG is following new guidelines set out by NHS England in March 2018, meaning that for 35 minor, short term health conditions, medicines which are available over the counter will no longer be routinely prescribed.

Following a period of national consultation, NHS England published new guidance which covers 35 minor, short-term health conditions which are either:

Self-limiting – a condition which doesn’t require any medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own, such as sore throats, coughs, colds and viruses

Suitable for self-care – a minor illness that is suitable for self-care can be treated with items that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy. For example, these conditions include indigestion, mouth ulcers, warts and verrucae.

The guidance also includes the restriction of vitamins, minerals and probiotics as items of limited clinical effectiveness.

The guidance applies to everyone in Wiltshire, although there are certain scenarios where patients should continue to have their treatments prescribed

What does this mean for me?

You are encouraged to seek advice from a pharmacist first and where possible, to buy your medicines over the counter. It’s a myth that that your GP can prescribe you ‘better’ medicines than those widely available in local shops or on the high street, so buying these over the counter has many benefits:

  • You can seek health advice from your local pharmacist, who is an expert in medicines
  • You don’t need to wait for a GP appointment, meaning you can be treated more quickly
  • You can keep the medicines at home so you have them to hand if you need them again (ensure you check the expiry date first and dispose of out of date medicines securely).

When making an appointment at your GP Practice about any of the 35 minor, short-term health conditions, you may be advised by the receptionist to seek advice from a pharmacist and buy your required medicines over the counter.

Information and resources

Further information about the changes to the prescription of over the counter medicines is provided below.

Where can I get further advice?

Community pharmacies are available to provide you with expert health advice and can help you with purchasing the medicines you need over the counter. Many pharmacies have extended opening hours, including weekends and have a consultation room where you can talk to the pharmacist in private.

To find out where your nearest pharmacy is visit https://beta.nhs.uk/find-a-pharmacy/

Advice on minor ailments that can be treated yourself is also available from:

Patient: www.patient.co.uk
NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk
Self Care Forum: www.selfcareforum.org