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Local GPs urge patients to self care for minor ailments

Local health commissioners agree prescription changes to over the counter medicines for minor ailments

Health commissioners in Nottingham City have approved plans to limit prescriptions for over the counter medicines for minor ailments, coming into effect from Monday 3 December 2018.

From the patient’s perspective, these plans mean that over the counter (OTC) products like ibuprofen, 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.

The decision was taken after NHS England published national guidelines in March 2018 about reducing prescribing of over the counter medicines for short-term illnesses, and a four-week patient and stakeholder engagement campaign conducted by Nottingham City CCG to ask people about the national guidelines and the exceptions to the policy.

In 2017 the South Nottinghamshire CCGs carried out engagement on prescribing over the counter medicines for short term illnesses.

Following the outcome of the local and national engagement, the Greater Nottingham Clinical Commissioning Groups have decided to follow the national guidelines and restrict over the counter medicines on prescription for minor illnesses.

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.

There are exceptions and 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, such as 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, for example 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.

The total cost of prescribing OTC medicines across Greater Nottingham in 2017/18 was £6 million.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact our patient experience team on: 0115 8839570 or email


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