Consultation on prescription of over-the-counter medicines

People in Tower Hamlets are being asked for their views on proposals to reduce prescribing of some over the counter medicines. 

The proposals cover 35 minor or self-limiting conditions and include vitamins, minerals and probiotics, which were included as items where there is little evidence of effectiveness but a high cost to the NHS. 

Last year, the NHS spent nearly £570million in England on prescriptions for medicines, which can be bought over the counter from pharmacies and supermarkets. 

These prescriptions include items for conditions that will heal without medical treatment, where there is little evidence of clinical effectiveness or where they can be bought easily elsewhere. 

This national consultation runs until 14 March, and being carried out by NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners in order to create a consistent approach to items that can currently be prescribed by a GP.

Local pharmacies in Tower Hamlets can help people self-care for minor illnesses. There are nearly 50 pharmacies in Tower Hamlets for people who live and work in the borough, to walk-in to for healthcare advice.

Using pharmacies to treat minor illness can improve access to services for patients; free up more GP appointments; avoid unnecessary visits to A&E; and support people to get healthcare advice by calling the NHS 111 service. 

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – which are responsible for buying healthcare services for local people – will receive national guidance on the conditions for which over the counter medications should not be prescribed by a GP, after the results of the consultation are known. 

NHS Tower Hamlets CCG Chair and local GP Dr Sam Everington said: “We are urging local people to have their say.

Those who respond to the national consultation survey, which can be completed here, can ask for their response to be emailed to them at the end of the survey.

Dr Everington added: We are asking that people forward this PDF response to so that we know what local people think about these proposals. This will enable us to make an informed local decision if the recommendation is for GPs to stop prescribing for these conditions.

“This consultation provides an opportunity to comment as well as influence the future approach to these over the counter medicines. It will also highlight how these proposals could potentially affect patients and community groups if these conditions are no longer prescribed for. 

“National guidance on prescribing over the counter items for these conditions could save the NHS money and put an end to regional variations in what is available on prescription. In many cases, self-care can be more effective, quicker and convenient than visiting the GP and can free up valuable GP time.”   

Events and webinars (online meetings) are being held to provide further information and to seek people’s views on the proposals. Please follow the links below to book a place. 

Face-to-face events

Webinars (online meetings)

Read full details of the consultation.

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