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3 before GP

3 before GP

NHS England advice on Over the Counter Medicine for patients

GPs should no longer prescribe over the counter medicines for 35 minor ailments and short-term self-limiting illnesses, NHS England has said.

Guidance from NHS bosses sets out how CCGs should curb prescriptions of OTC medicines for eight self-limiting conditions and 27 minor ailments (see below for the full list), which NHS England says are suitable for self care. The guidance also covers prescribing of probiotics and vitamins and minerals.

The restrictions do not affect prescribing OTC medicines for longer-term or more complex conditions, or where minor illnesses are symptomatic or a side effect of something more serious, NHS England said. OTC medicines can also be prescribed if a patient's ability to self manage a condition is compromised  as a result of medical or mental health issues or ’significant social vulnerability’, the guidance says.

GPs can also continue to prescribe OTC medicines if 'in their clinical judgment, exceptional circumstances exist that warrant deviation from the recommendation to self-care.'

Conditions covered by the guidance
  • Acute sore throat
  • Infequent cold sores of the lip
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap (seborrhoeic dermatitis – infants)
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Infant colic
  • Mild cystitis
  • Mild irritant dermatitis
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea in adults
  • Dry eyes/sore tired eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infrequent constipation
  • Infrequent migraine
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild dry skin
  • Sunburn due to excessive sun exposure
  • Sun protection
  • Mild to moderate hayfever/seasonal rhinitis
  • Minor burns and scalds
  • Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and fever
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of dental caries
  • Ringworm/athlete's foot
  • Teething/mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae
  •  

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