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Changes to over the counter medicines on prescription for minor illnesses

Following a six-week patient engagement campaign, health commissioners in South Nottinghamshire have approved plans to limit prescriptions for over the counter medicines (such as ibuprofen and paracetamol) for minor ailments, coming into effect from Wednesday 1 March 2017.

These plans mean that over the counter (OTC) products like paracetamol and antihistamines will no longer be prescribed for short-term, self-limiting conditions. In these instances, patients will be encouraged to buy their own from their local pharmacy or supermarket.

The engagement process

The three South Nottinghamshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (Nottingham North and East, Nottingham West, and Rushcliffe) recently undertook a six-week patient and stakeholder engagement campaign to ask people whether these medicines should be prescribed for minor ailments, such as a cold, headache, sore throat, hay fever etc.

Rather than visiting their GP, most people can take care of themselves when they have a minor ailment through a combination of self care and OTC medicines, which can be bought in supermarkets, shops or pharmacies.

Currently, GPs can prescribe OTC medicines to patients for minor ailments but the cost is much higher than if the medicines were purchased direct by the patient.

The total cost of prescribing OTC medicines for Nottingham North and East (NNE),  Nottingham West (NW) and Rushcliffe CCGs in 2015 was £1,966,265.

It is estimated that by limiting prescriptions for OTC medicines for minor ailments across the three areas, savings of around £196,626 can be delivered.

During the course of the engagement, the CCGs received 403 responses from patients, public and professionals across South Nottinghamshire, and also ran seven public events across the South Nottinghamshire area. On the whole, the patient engagement responses indicated that patients were comfortable with the proposal.

The majority of respondents (87 per cent) said the proposal wouldn’t affect their self care of a minor ailment at all. Eighty five percent said it wouldn’t affect their ability to get the medication at all and 75 per cent even said it wouldn’t affect their long-term condition.

Where there were concerns, they were particularly focussed on the following issues:

  • Vulnerable patients who may not be able to access OTC medicines
  • Ensuring patients with long-term conditions can continue to get access to OTC medicines they need to help them manage their condition

The CCG’s have taken these concerns into consideration. There are no plans to limit medicines for people with long-term conditions and GPs will be able to prescribe in other circumstances of clinical need.

If you have a query then please email pet@nottinghamnortheastccg.nhs.uk or call 0800 028 3693 (option 2)

To view the engagement report please visit the link below:


You can also check out more about self care using the link below: