GPs in West Hampshire are no longer routinely providing prescriptions for medications and treatments which can be bought over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets. This means that GP’s, nurses and pharmacists will not usually prescribe certain medicines for minor health concerns and patients will be asked to purchase them from pharmacies or supermarkets instead.
The changes follow national recommendations from NHS England to encourage people to self-care and to reduce the amount of money the NHS spends on medicines which are available to buy over the counter.
In West Hampshire, between April 2018 and March 2019, the NHS spent £2m on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket. By saving money on items which are readily available, priority can be given to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.
These changes apply to
- health conditions which are self-limiting and so do not need treatment, as they will heal or be cured of their own accord
- any minor ailment that is suitable for self-care, which means that medical advice is not normally needed and the person can manage the condition themselves, by purchasing medication directly.
These prescriptions also include other common items
- that can be purchased over the counter, sometimes at a lower cost than that which would be incurred by the NHS
- for which there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness such as probiotics, vitamins and mineral supplements.
People who need medicines to treat a long-term health condition, such as diabetes, or for more complex illnesses, as well as patients on treatments only available on prescription will not be affected by the changes. The changes will also not apply to patients whose condition has not improved after using an over-the-counter product, or to patients who are unable to treat themselves. In all of these cases, prescribers will be able to use their own judgement when deciding whether to issue a prescription.
More information on the changes to prescribing is available in the links listed below, or you can speak to your community pharmacist or GP practice.
You may also find useful:
- Read more about the changes to over the counter medicines (Easy Read version can be found here)