Over the Counter Medicines

GPs in East Leicestershire and Rutland will no longer provide prescriptions for medications and treatments which are available to buy over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets.

This means that GPs, nurses and pharmacists will not routinely prescribe certain medicines for some minor health concerns.

Why are the changes happening

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 for a cheaper cost over the counter. The recommendations can be viewed in full here.

In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, between April 2017 and March 2018, the NHS spent £4.1m on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket.

By saving money on items which are readily available, we can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.

Conditions for which prescribing should be restricted

  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Acute sore throat
  • Infrequent cold sores of the lip
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughs and colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap (Seborrhoeic dermatitis – infants)
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Infant colic
  • Mild Cystitis
  • Mild irritant dermatitis
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea (adults)
  • Dry eyes/Sore (tired) eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infrequent constipation
  • Infrequent migraine
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild dry skin
  • Sunburn
  • Sun protection
  • Mild to moderate hay fever/Seasonal rhinitis
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/fever (for example, aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of dental caries
  • Ringworm/Athletes foot
  • Teething/Mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae

Who isn’t affected

People with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, or with more complex illnesses as well as patients on treatments only available on prescription are not be affected by the changes. The changes  also do not apply to those who have found that over the counter products haven’t helped and patients who are unable to treat themselves.

What you need to do

Keep a few useful medicines at home so common conditions such as sore throats and headaches can be treated immediately. Families with children should also keep medicines suitable for them.

Ask for your pharmacist for general advice on what medicines to keep at home, where to store them safely and how to use them.

Patients asked for their views 

Patients at East Leicestershire and Rutland were asked for their views on the changes from July to September in 2018. You can view the engagement report about what people said here.

More information

You can find out more about the changes in this leaflet.

We have also produced the following information guidance on travel vaccinations.