Plans to further restrict access to over-the-counter medicines

Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group is raising awareness of a national survey from NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners.

Locally the NHS spends approximately £935,000 on prescriptions for medicines which can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy and other outlets such as supermarkets. These prescriptions include items for self-limiting, minor health conditions which will often clear up of their own accord or that the patient can treat themselves by buying over-the-counter medicines, sometimes at a lower cost than that which would be incurred by the NHS.

By reducing spend on treating conditions that are self-limiting or which lend themselves to self-care, these resources can be used for other higher priority areas that have a greater impact for patients, support improvements in services.  Some of the items included as part of the consultation are also of low clinical effectiveness but which represent a high cost to the NHS.

The survey asks for feedback about medications used to treat 33 minor, self-limiting health conditions. These medications have been selected as they may be considered low priority for NHS funding and it is proposed that they should not be routinely prescribed in GP practices.

In Bath and North East Somerset we have already reviewed our prescribing policy for two types over-the-counter medicines (painkillers and hay fever medicines) when they are used to treat short-term minor ailments. Following consultation, we are advising GPs not to prescribe these medicines – when used for short-term, minor ailments such as mild hay fever, headaches, coughs and colds.

We are encouraging everyone to feed back on the national survey by following this link here. The national consultation closes on 14 March 2018.