Changes to some NHS prescriptions
At the end of May 2018, doctors will no longer be allowed to prescribe medicines which can be bought over-the-counter for short-term conditions and minor ailments.
Over-the-counter (OTC) means medicines that can be bought directly without a prescription from a high street pharmacy, supermarket or other shops and online. Some examples include: paracetamol and ibuprofen; antihistamines; eye drops to treat allergies and indigestion treatments.
Short-term conditions tend to improve on their own without a long-term effect on a person’s health.
Minor ailments are uncomplicated conditions which can be diagnosed and managed without seeing the doctor. Some examples of these include: coughs, colds and sore throats; colic; threadworms; verrucas; warts; acne and indigestion.
We have been advised that the following conditions are affected by these changes:
- Acute sore throat
- Infrequent cold sores
- Coughs and colds and nasal congestion
- Cradle cap
- Infant colic
- Mild cystitis
- Mild dermatitis
- Dry eyes/sore tired eyes
- Excessive sweating
- Head lice
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Infrequent constipation
- Infrequent migraine
- Insect bites and stings
- Mild acne
- Mild dry skin
- Sun protection
- Mild to moderate hay fever
- Minor burns and scalds
- Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/or fever
- Mouth ulcers
- Nappy rash
- Oral thrush
- Ringworm/athletes foot
- Teething/mild toothache
- Travel sickness
- Warts and verrucae
We expect to be given the full list of medicines affected as soon as it is available.
Where can I get these medicines?
Many medicines can now be purchased from community pharmacies and / or supermarkets. These often have long opening times so you can get your medicines quickly and treat your condition early, rather than having to wait for a GP appointment.
This also saves valuable GP time and your own time too – it is much quicker to pop into your local pharmacy than wait for a GP appointment. Community pharmacists are experts who are best placed to give advice on the right product for you to use.
Things to bear in mind…
« If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP, your pharmacist will recognise this and advise you to see your GP.
« The NHS Choices website contains a lot of useful information on a range of minor ailments (such as constipation, short-term pain, strains and sprains), which you can manage yourself. Please visit www.nhs.uk.
« NHS England’s policy only applies to the use of medicines and products for short-term conditions. Your GP will continue to prescribe items you need for a long-term condition, provided that the treatment is effective.
We do appreciate that change can be unsettling, but as our population continues to grow, prescribing medicines places more pressure on scarce NHS resources.
Significant savings can also be made by not taking up a GP appointment for the supply of an over-the-counter medicine and should also increase the availability of appointments for patients with more serious conditions.
We would like to ask for your understanding and cooperation whilst these changes are embedded and we respectfully remind patients that our staff are obliged to implement NHS England policy for the benefit of everybody who uses the NHS, both now and in the future.
Urgent Prescription Requests
We receive a large volume of prescription requests every day and to process them safely we require three full working days. Your pharmacy will also need time to deal with your order, so you need to take this into account when ordering your medication.
However, we have seen a noticeable increase in patients not requesting their mediation until they have run out, and then asking the surgery to provide an ‘urgent’ prescription. This is not fair to our clinicians and staff and the extra work involved impacts on our ability to run the surgery effectively. We firmly believe that our patients need to plan ahead and take responsibility for their own health and we want to work with them to achieve this.
As a first step, we have taken the decision that from 1 May 2018, we will no longer be accepting “urgent” prescription requests.
If you do run out of medication, you will be asked to complete an emergency request which will be passed to the duty GP. They will decide if the request warrants same-day attention or can be dealt with as routine within three working days.
The surgery will only contact you if the GP agrees that the medication is urgent and is required the same day. The prescription will also need to be collected from the surgery as we will be unable to issue it electronically directly to a pharmacy.
If you do not hear from us, your prescription will be available for collection after the normal three working day period.
There are, however, some medications we would deal with quicker than our usual three working days. We have listed below the only medications for which an emergency script will be generated, if requested:
- Blue Inhalers (reliever type)
- Anti-epilepsy medication
- All insulin based medications
We hope that you will understand why we have had to introduce these measures and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.