GPs will no longer issue prescriptions to treat some minor health conditions, the NHS has confirmed.
The health service has issued guidance which indicates that certain illnesses and ailments will not require a prescription, with people advised to look for over-the-counter treatments instead.
The NHS published a list of 35 conditions that no longer require a prescription from a GP, with conjunctivitis, back pain, indigestion and threadworms among the illnesses included.
Patients should instead go to their pharmacy or supermarket to find suitable treatments.
The move is intended to encourage people to use over-the-counter medicines purchased out of their own money, helping the health service to save money it spends on dealing with drugs and prescriptions for small medical problems.
The NHS explained: “By reducing the amount the NHS spends on treating these minor health conditions, the NHS can give priority to treatments for patients with more serious conditions such as cancer and mental health problems."
What medications will GPs no longer prescribe?
GPs will no longer prescribe medication for 35 minor conditions following a public consultation performed by the NHS, which ran from December 2017 to March 2018.
The health conditions include:
- Acute sore throat
- Coughs, colds and nasal congestion
- Cradle cap
- Diarrhoea (adults)
- Dry eyes/sore tired eyes
- Excessive sweating
- Head lice
- Indigestion and heartburn
- Infant colic
- Infrequent cold sores of the lip
- Infrequent constipation
- Infrequent migraine
- Insect bites and stings
- Mild acne
- Minor burns and scalds
- Mild cystitis
- Mild dry skin
- Mild irritant dermatitis
- Mild to moderate hay fever
- Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and fever (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain)
- Mouth ulcers
- Nappy rash
- Oral thrush
- Prevention of tooth decay
- Ringworm/athlete’s foot
- Sun protection
- Teething/mild toothache
- Travel sickness
- Warts and verrucae
Are there any exceptions?
The NHS said the guidance does not apply to people with long-term or more complex conditions who will continue to get their usual prescriptions, as well as in cases where over-the-counter medicine does not prove effective.
Other reasons could include treating side-effects of a prescription, or a GP believing that a patient is unable to treat themselves.
In addition, it was announced that probiotics and some vitamins and minerals will no longer be routinely prescribed because most people can get these from eating a healthy diet, or can buy vitamin pills from a supermarket or health food shop.
The NHS said: "A GP, nurse or pharmacist will generally not give you a prescription for over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for a range of minor health conditions.
"This is because of government policy to reduce the amount of money the NHS spends on prescriptions for treating minor conditions that usually get better on their own.
"Before these changes in 2018, the NHS spent around £569 million a year on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket, such as paracetamol."