Your GP, Nurse or Pharmacist will generally not give you a prescription for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for a range of minor health conditions.
Instead, OTC medicines are available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket.
The team of health professionals at your local pharmacy can offer help and clinical advice to manage minor health concerns. If your symptoms suggest it is more serious, they will ensure you get the care you need.
You can buy OTC medicines for any of these conditions:
In some cases, you can still get prescriptions for medicines used to treat these conditions. You may still be prescribed a medicine for a condition on the list if:
- you need treatment for a long-term condition, for example regular pain relief for chronic arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
- you need treatment for more complex forms of minor illnesses, for example migraines that are very bad and where OTC medicines do not work
- you need an OTC medicine to treat a side effect of a prescription medicine or symptom of another illness, such as constipation when taking certain painkillers
- the medicine has a licence that doesn’t allow the product to be sold to certain groups of patients. This could include babies, children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- the person prescribing thinks that a patient cannot treat themselves, for example because of mental health problems.
Probiotics, Vitamins and Minerals
GPs, Nurses or Pharmacists will also generally no longer prescribe probiotics and some vitamins and minerals. You can get these from eating a healthy, varied and balanced diet, or buy them at your pharmacy or supermarket.
Why is the NHS reducing these prescriptions?
The NHS currently spends 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 it spends on OTC medicines, the NHS can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.