NHS Prescriptions For Medicines Available To Purchase Over The Counter

From 31 May 2018, a range of medicines that were available to buy over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets are no longer able to be routinely prescribed by GP surgeries.

These are medicines associated with a number of minor, short term conditions, which either get better by themselves or you can treat yourself.

The decision in Gloucestershire follows a recent national consultation and NHS England guidance which recommends this change (referenced below). As a commissioner (buyer) of services and treatments, the CCG has a duty to plan and prioritise fairly and use the public money available to achieve the maximum health benefits for the people of Gloucestershire.

The annual prescribing cost for these medicines in Gloucestershire is around £2 million which we think could be put to better use to support more serious health conditions. Costs to the NHS are often higher than those over the counter when other fees are included such as those for dispensing or medical consultations.

The change will also help to ease some of the pressure on GP surgeries, so doctors and other healthcare professionals can concentrate on patients with more serious or long term conditions.

The average cost of many of these medicines no longer prescribed on NHS prescription will be around £2 to £3 – for example olive oil ear drops, antifungal skin cream or antihistamine tablets. The price of these items may vary slightly, but will range from 30p (for a small packet of paracetamol) to around £5 (for a bottle of branded cough medicine). Please discuss the best range of medicines available to you with your community pharmacy team.

We hope that you understand the rationale behind this decision. If you have any concerns about how this will impact your health, please discuss with your GP or Practice Nurse during your next appointment. If you have any concerns or complaints about the decision, please contact the CCG at: glccg.pals@nhs.net.

More information on the conditions affected can be found on the link below:

NHS England Guidance https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/conditions-for-which-over-the-counter-items-should-not-routinely-be-prescribed-in-primary-care-guidance-for-ccgs/