On average the NHS spends around £569 million a year on prescriptions for medicines that you can buy yourself from a pharmacy or supermarket without needing a prescription from a doctor. For example, pain killers like paracetamol.
NHS England, carried out a national consultation between December 2017 and March 2018 to find out whether people were happy to buy medicines themselves for some short-term illnesses instead of going to the doctor.
This would save the NHS money and free-up doctors’ appointments for people who can only get the care they need directly from their GP.
Following NHS England’s consultation they created new rules to stop doctors giving prescriptions for medicines for 33 small illnesses, which are commonly referred to as minor ailments. These medicines are all readily available from community pharmacies and in many cases from supermarkets and other shops.
NHS England has recommended that doctors only stop giving prescriptions for medicines when:
- the medicines don’t make you better
- the medicines are for illnesses that will get better by themselves
- you can easily buy the medicines from a chemist, supermarket or shop.
NHS England understand that every local area has different needs and so they have left it up to local Clinical Commissioning Groups to work with local people and service providers to agree how these recommendation should be implemented in their area.
We want to give our local patients, residents, service providers and other stakeholders the opportunity to have their say so we can make sure these new rules work for local people.