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Share your views on prescriptions for ‘over the counter’ medicines

11 Sep 2019

The term ‘over the counter medicines’ refers to medicines and treatments used to treat minor conditions, which can be bought from a pharmacy or shop without an NHS prescription.

This includes limiting the prescribing of over the counter remedies for a range of minor conditions that would either:

  • get better on their own without any need for treatment, such as coughs, colds and sore throats
  • be treated with items bought without prescription, such as anti-dandruff shampoo
  • or where treatments aren’t proven to be clinically effective, such as for mild urine infections and mouth ulcers.

In March 2018, NHS England published new national guidelines for 37 situations in which they recommend that doctors and nurses shouldn’t routinely prescribe over the counter medicines, and the NHS in Liverpool is proposing to take forwards a shortened list of 17 of these, based on the needs of local people.

However, if these changes went ahead, doctors and nurses would still be able to prescribe over the counter medications for these conditions where patients had a long-term or more serious illness, or if they felt there was a medical, mental health related or social reason for doing so.

A full list of the changes being proposed in Liverpool can be found here.

The proposals are intended to encourage people to self-care for minor conditions such as coughs and colds. Many people will already do this, buying the products they need from their local supermarket or chemist, and if needed, by asking a pharmacist for treatment advice rather than visiting their GP. Often this is beneficial because it means that they can often start treatment much sooner.

The guidance is also aimed at improving how consistently GPs prescribe for these items across the city, and making better use of NHS resources.

Based on other areas where the guidelines have been introduced, NHS Liverpool CCG estimates that it could save between £130,000-£260,000 a year by limiting prescriptions for these items, which could be used to provide other local NHS services.

But before any decisions are made NHS Liverpool CCG wants to hear what local people think about these proposed changes. The feedback given will be used to inform decisions about what happens next.

People can share their views between 11 September and 4 December 2019 by filling in a questionnaire – either online here or by requesting a paper version of the questionnaire by calling: (0151) 0151 247 6409, emailing:, or texting: 07920 206 386.

These contact details can also be used to request information in another language or format. 

In addition to this, the CCG will be going out into communities to find out how these changes might affect different patient groups, particularly people who may receive these items without a prescription charge at present.

Dr Fiona Lemmens, a Liverpool GP and Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:

“As a CCG, we want to make sure that we are using NHS resources in Liverpool in the best possible way, and part of this means encouraging people to choose self-care for minor conditions where they are able to do so. However, it’s really important to stress that no decisions have been made yet.

"We really want local people to tell us what they think about our proposed changes first. If there are any other circumstances than the ones we’ve already outlined, where limiting prescriptions for these items might affect or disadvantage people, we want to hear about it - and we’ll be going out into different communities over the coming weeks to help make sure we gather views from people right across the city.” 

For more information and updates about this, please click here.

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