Quicker, safer & more convenient

Pick up your medication with your regular shop – no need to visit your GP

Your GP won’t usually prescribe medicines that can be bought over-the-counter for minor health concerns

You can always get the advice and medicines you need from your local pharmacy without an appointment.

Healthcare professionals at your local pharmacy can offer help and clinical advice to manage minor health concerns. If your symptoms suggest it’s more serious they’ll ensure you get the care you need.

Which medicines are affected?

Your GP will not usually give you a prescription for certain medicines that are available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket. This applies to these conditions:

  • Acute sore throat
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea (adults)
  • Dry eyes / sore tired eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infant colic
  • Infrequent cold sores of the lip
  • Infrequent constipation
  • Infrequent migraine
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild cystitis
  • Mild dry skin
  • Mild irritant dermatitis
  • Mild to moderate hay fever
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor pain, discomfort and fever
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of tooth decay
  • Ringworm / athletes foot
  • Sun protection
  • Sunburn
  • Teething / mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae

Exceptions to the new prescriptions rules

You may still be prescribed a medicine for a condition on the list if:

  • You need treatment for a long-term condition, e.g. regular pain relief for chronic arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease.
  • You need treatment for more complex forms of minor illnesses, e.g. migraines that are very bad and where over the counter medicines do not work.
  • You need an over the counter medicine to treat a side effect of a prescription medicine or symptom of another illness, e.g. constipation when taking certain painkillers.
  • The medicine has a licence which doesn’t allow the product to be sold over the counter to certain groups of patients. This could include babies, children or women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • The person prescribing thinks that a patient cannot treat themselves, for example because of mental health problems or severe social vulnerability.

How your local pharmacy team can help you

Your local pharmacy team are qualified healthcare professionals with the knowledge and skills to help with many health concerns. Pharmacists can give clinical advice, right there and then, and help you choose the most appropriate treatment. If your symptoms suggest it’s more serious, they’ll ensure you get the care you need.

What can you do?

Keeping a few useful medicines at home means you can treat common conditions immediately without needing to see a healthcare professional. These could include:

  • Painkillers to help with pain, discomfort and fever
  • Indigestion medicines, oral rehydration salts and treatments for constipation and diarrhoea
  • Treatments for seasonal conditions like colds and hay fever
  • Sunblock and after sun
  • Basic first aid items (for example plasters or antiseptic cream)

If you have children, make sure you also have products suitable for them. Speak to your local pharmacy team about what medicines to keep at home, where to store them safely and how to use them.

What if my symptoms don’t improve?

Your local pharmacy team can advise how long your symptoms should last. If they haven’t improved after this time or you start to feel a lot worse, you should:

  • Go back to the pharmacy for further advice
  • Call NHS 111
  • Contact your GP

Visit the www.nhs.uk and click on ‘services near you’ to help you choose the right service.

A&E and 999 should only be used for serious and life‑threatening emergencies

Why does the NHS need to reduce prescriptions for over‑the‑counter medicines?

The NHS has been spending around £136 million a year on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket, such as paracetamol. By reducing the amount the NHS spends on over‑the‑counter medicines, we can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.

Finding more information and support

Visit www.nhs.uk for information and advice on treating minor health concerns.

Find out more about this change to prescription policy at www.nhs.uk/OTCmedicines.