Buying your own medicines

Your GP, nurse or pharmacist will generally not give you a prescription for over the counter medicines for a range of short-term minor health conditions. Instead, you can buy these medicines from a pharmacy or supermarket.

The team at the pharmacy will be able to give you clinical advice to help you manage common minor health concerns. This can include coughs, colds, acne, minor pain, discomfort and fever.

You can take a look at the full list of minor health concerns for which you should buy your own medicines on the NHS website here. (opens in a new window).

You can also visit the NHS website (opens in a new window) for lots of information on how to manage minor health concerns at home.

How buying your own medicines helps your NHS

Your NHS can pay up to 10 times more for medicines for short-term minor ailments if you choose to get it on prescription. It’s cheaper, quicker and easier to buy them yourself from a pharmacy or a supermarket.

Some medicines cost as little as 20p if you buy them yourself. Better still, you don’t need to make an appointment or travel to your GP practice – you can pick them up when it’s convenient for you.

If you are unsure about which medicines to buy, you can visit your pharmacist for advice. Pharmacists are experts on medicines and they can also give you clinical advice on how to manage your condition and which medicines would be the most effective.

Over the counter medicines – guidance from NHS England

In March 2018 NHS England produced over the counter (OTC) medicines guidance to reduce the routine prescribing of products that are for:

  • self-limiting conditions – these do not need medical advice or treatment as they usually clear up on their own, such as sore throats, coughs and colds
  • conditions where people can self-care, where treatment is available through medicines which can be bought over the counter from a pharmacy, such as indigestion, mouth ulcers and warts and verrucae.

You can read more about the guidance in this patient information leaflet on the NHS website (opens in a new window).

Information about changes to treatment / medicines on the NHS

In December 2017, the NHS asked prescribers to stop or greatly reduce the prescribing of some medicines. This was because they are either, not as safe as other medicines, not as effective as other medicines or, more expensive than other medicines that have the same effect.

A list of these medicines and treatments are below. Click on each for a patient information leaflet which explains more.

Gluten-free prescribing

GPs in Bradford district and Craven no longer prescribe gluten-free products. This is based on clinical evidence, financial information and feedback from a public consultation (held in 2016) on gluten-free prescribing.

In Bradford District and Craven we spent around £420,000 a year on this service. With an increasing demand for services, we needed to look at how the local NHS provides all products and services and make decisions about prioritising how we spend the limited resources that are available.

There are a very small number of patients who receive low protein gluten-free food on prescription, but they will be unaffected by this change. They do not have coeliac disease, but have illnesses which require them to eat an extremely restricted diet for which specialist foods are not available on the high street.

While we know that this may be unwelcome for some patients, the savings will help our local NHS care for those patients at greatest need.

To help patients maintain a healthy and balanced diet, the charity Coeliac UK publishes an annual list of naturally GF foods which can be included in a regular grocery shop, you can find this list on their website (opens in a new window).

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