Over the Counter Medication

General practices will no longer prescribe a range of medicines that are available to buy over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets.

These are medicines associated with a number of minor, short term conditions, where patients will get better by treating themselves, and do not need to see a health care professional. (A full list of these is below).

The decision in Staffordshire follows a recent national consultation and NHS England guidance which recommends this change.

The annual prescribing cost for these medicines in Staffordshire is around £5 million and the NHS can put to better use this resource by supporting 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 pharmacist.

List of medications that will no longer be routinely prescribed by your doctor:

  • Probiotics
  • Vitamins and minerals
  • Self-limiting conditions
  • Acute sore throat (short term sore throat)
  • Cold sores of the lip (infrequent)
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye/swelling and redness around the eye/eye infection)
  • Coughs and colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap that causes distress to the infant and is not improving (yellow scaly patches that sometimes appear on the scalps of young babies).
  • Haemorrhoids (piles)
  • Infant colic (stomach pain/trapped wind pain)
  • Minor conditions suitable for self-care
  • Mild cystitis (pain when you urinate due to mild infection)
  • Mild irritant contact dermatitis (mild allergic type of skin reaction)
  • Dandruff (mild scaling of the scalp without itching)
  • Diarrhoea (adults) (frequent watery bowel movements)
  • Dry eyes / sore tired eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating (mild – moderate hyperhidrosis)
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infrequent constipation (difficulty in passing stools)
  • Infrequent migraines
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild Acne
  • Mild dry skin
  • Sunburn
  • Sun protection
  • Mild to moderate hay fever / seasonal rhinitis
  • Minor burns or scalds
  • Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/fever (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of dental caries (tooth decay)
  • Ringworm/athletes foot (types of fungal skin infection)
  • Teething/mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Warts and verrucae