OTC (over the counter) Medicines (information from BSOL CCG)

Over the counter medicines leafletThe prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing. Your GP, nurse or pharmacist will not generally give you a prescription for over the counter medicines for a range of minor health concerns.

Instead, over the counter medicines are available to buy from your local pharmacy or supermarket.

The NHS currently spends around £136 million a year on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket, such as paracetamol.

The costs to the NHS for many of the items used to treat minor conditions are often higher than the prices for which they can be purchased over the counter as there are hidden costs. For example, a pack of 16 paracetamol 500mg tablets can be purchased for less than 50p from a pharmacy, whereas the cost to the NHS is around three times as much.

By reducing the amount it spends on over the counter medicines, the NHS can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.

Your local pharmacy can offer help and clinical advice to manage minor health concerns and if your symptoms suggest it’s more serious, they’ll ensure you get the care you need.

Find out more

What does this policy mean?

Conditions covered by this policy

Does the policy apply to everyone?

Are there exceptions to the policy?

Are vitamins, minerals and probiotics included?

What about maintenance doses of Vitamin D?

Please see Are vitamins, minerals and probiotics included?

The Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care policy allows for treatment when a blood test has shown that a person has a very low level of Vitamin D. Your doctor or nurse will write a prescription for Vitamin D to bring the levels back up to normal. After this, you will be advised and encouraged to arrange for your own supply to keep blood levels up.

You can read the NHS guidance here, which also includes advice and guidance regarding specific patient groups such as babies, children and low income families.

Where can I find out more about self-care?

If you are no longer prescribing these medicines, where can I get them?

I can’t afford to pay for over the counter medicines

I need this medicine for my child, can I have it on prescription?

I am being treated for a long-term condition, will I still get a prescription?

I have a medical exemption certificate

Does this include the elderly?

I don’t pay for my prescriptions. Will I still be able to get over the counter medicines on prescription?

The pharmacy will not sell me a medicine. What should I do?

Is my child’s school or nursery allowed to give an over the counter medicine?

I need a larger quantity of over the counter medication but the pharmacy won’t sell it to me in the size/strength I need

Can a pharmacist advise me if an over the counter medicine can be taken alongside my prescription medicines?

I can’t easily get to my local pharmacy, what should I do?

What if an over the counter medicine has been started by the hospital?

Are out of hours services and hospitals implementing this policy?

Can I still use the minor ailments/Pharmacy First scheme?

Will the policy be reviewed?

How can I make a complaint about this policy?

You can contact the Complaints Team at NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG by:

  • Calling 0121 203 3313
  • Emailing bsol.complaints@nhs.net
  • Write to: NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group, Complaints Department, Attwood Green Health Centre, 4th Floor, 30 Bath Row, Birmingham, B15 1LZ

More information is available on our Compliments, Concerns and Complaints page.