Last year the NHS spent approximately £569million on prescriptions for medicines for minor conditions which could have been bought over the counter from a high street pharmacy or supermarket.

By spending less money on treating conditions that will get better by themselves, or can be easily treated by you, at home, we will have more money to spend on maintaining the services we have and investing in new ones.


Every £1million saved on prescriptions for over the counter treatments could pay for:


more community nurses OR


more hip replacements OR


more drug treatment courses for breast cancer OR


more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s OR


more GP appointments
(excluding admin and practice staff time)

Please take part in our survey

Share your views on purchasing over the counter medicines for minor conditions. This will enable us to review how we spend NHS money in the future, ensuring everyone can get the prescription medicines they need, when they need them.

The survey should take around 10 minutes to complete and your input is greatly appreciated.


What is happening to my prescriptions?

You may find that your doctor or healthcare professional will no longer give you a prescription for a medicine that you can buy over the counter.

The NHS has identified a range of minor ailments and conditions that can be easily treated with over the counter medicines that you can buy from the supermarket or high-street pharmacy.

Items such as vitamins, minerals and other supplements including probiotics may no longer be prescribed.

Conditions that do not require medical advice or treatment as they will clear up on their own include:

acute sore throat

cold sores

conjunctivitis and styes

coughs and colds and nasal congestion

cradle cap and colic in babies

haemorrhoids (piles)

mild cystitis

Minor conditions that are suitable for treatment with items that can easily be purchased over the counter include:

contact dermatitis


diarrhoea (adults)

dry eyes/sore tired eyes


excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)

head lice

indigestion and heartburn

occasional constipation

infrequent migraine

insect bites and stings

mild acne

mild dry skin

mild sunburn

mild to moderate hay fever/allergic rhinitis

minor burns and scalds

minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and fever (such as aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain)

mouth ulcers

nappy rash

oral thrush

prevention of dental caries

ringworm/athletes foot

teething/mild toothache


travel sickness

warts and verrucas

Your medicine cabinet

Taking care of yourself and your family

A well-stocked medicine cabinet is a must-have for every household. We asked doctors, nurses and pharmacists to tell us what could be in yours.

All the items listed can be bought over the counter from a chemist or supermarket – you don’t need a prescription.

  • Calpol and baby ibuprofen; head lice treatments (if you have children or visiting children)
  • Sticking plasters of various sizes
  • Cough medicine
  • Throat lozenges e.g. Tyrozets
  • Paracetamol tablets
  • Ibuprofen tablets
  • Aspirin tablets
  • Hay fever tablets
  • Eye drops
  • Insect bite and sting cream (anti-histamine e.g. Piriton)
  • Antiseptic cream (e.g. Savlon)
  • Antiseptic fluid (e.g. Dettol; TCP)
  • Sterilising fluid or tablets (e.g. Milton)
  • A roll of crepe bandage
  • Dressing tape
  • Safety pins of various sizes
  • Tubigrip bandage in various sizes
  • Small scissors and Tweezers
  • Indigestion remedies (liquid or tablet e.g. Gaviscon)
  • Diarrhoea remedies (e.g. Immodium)
  • Constipation remedies (e.g. Senokot)
  • Thrush cream
  • Haemorrhoid cream (e.g. Anusol)


If you have any queries or would like more information, please get in touch