Over the Counter Medicines

The NHS is stopping the prescribing of medicines that are readily available over the counter from a pharmacy, supermarket or shop.

The NHS is stopping the prescribing of medicines that are readily available over the counter from a pharmacy, supermarket or shop.

Every year the NHS spends over £500million on prescriptions giving out medicines that that residents can buy themselves over the counter.  After a national consultation, NHS England advised all CCGs that treatments for minor and self-limiting conditions should not routinely be prescribed and that people should self-care for these conditions.

Here is a link to the NHS England guidance:  https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/otc-guidance-for-ccgs.pdf

Stopping prescribing medicines for conditions that are minor and you will naturally recover from without any help will save the NHS money and free up GP and practice nurse appointments.

The conditions are:

  • Conjunctivitis: bacterial and viral
  • Coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap
  • Dandruff (mild scaling of the scalp without itching)
  • Diarrhoea in adults (not children)
  • Dry eyes/Sore tired eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Fungal Nails Infection
  • Head Lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infant colic
  • Infrequent cold sores of the lips
  • Infrequent constipation (less than 2 weeks)
  • Infrequent migraines
  • Inset bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild cystitis (2-3 days)
  • Mild dry skin
  • Mild irritant dermatitis
  • Mild to moderate hayfever/seasonal rhinitis
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/or fever (e.g. aches and sprains, back pain)
  • Minor haemorrhoids
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of dental caries (cavities)
  • Ringworm/athlete’s foot
  • Sore throat
  • Sunburn due to excessive sun exposure
  • Sun protection (except ACBS criteria)
  • Teething/mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae

Before implementing the guidance in Wigan Borough, we engaged with over 300 people about what they thought and what we needed to think about when implementing.  More information on the engagement and the report from this feedback can be found on our reports and feedback page.

Nearly 90% of people were agreed with stopping prescriptions for medicines that can be bought over the counter, but there were concerns for people who couldn’t afford it. As a result of these concerns, within Wigan we will continue to run a pharmacy minor ailment scheme for people who cannot afford to self-care so that the pharmacy can provide certain medications free of charge to these people.


Over the Counter Medicines Poster

Over the Counter Leaflet

Over the Counter Medicines Frequently Asked Questions

OTC Medicines Video for Media Screens

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