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Position statement for prescribing preparations available to buy over the counter (OTC) for self-care.

NHS Haringey Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is committed to delivering best value to patients by ensuring that we use our resources well. Therefore, to help us to support the cost effective, evidence based use of medicines, Haringey CCG no longer supports the routine prescribing of health supplements and medicines that can be bought over the counter for self-limiting, short-term illnesses and minor conditions.

By managing minor health needs through self-care, it will help to ease the pressure on the NHS. Self-care means looking after yourself in a healthy way, whether it’s brushing your teeth, taking medicine when you have a cold, or doing some exercise. Advice from organisations such as the Self Care Forum and NHS Choices is readily available on the internet. Managing minor health needs through self-care is in line with the NHS England Guidance for CCGs 'Conditions for which over the counter medicines should not be routinely prescribed in primary care': https://www.england.nhs.uk/medicines/conditions-for-which-over-the-counter-items-should-not-routinely-be-prescribed/ 

What treatments and preparations are included?

  • Treatments that are used to treat a condition that is considered to be self-limiting and so does not need treatment as it will heal/resolve by itself; and/or
  • Treatments that are used to treat a condition which lends itself to self-care, i.e. that the person suffering does not normally need to seek medical care and/or treatment for the condition.

Examples of treatments available over the counter which should no longer be routinely prescribed on the NHS in Haringey include:
(Please see Self care and over the counter items: A quick reference guide for information on product licenses and exemptions)

  • Acne treatment
  • Analgesic/pain relief treatment (short term pain, fever, headache, muscle/joint injury, infrequent migraine, period pain, back pain)
  • Anti-inflammatory gels e.g. ibuprofen for short term use
  • Anti-fungal treatment (athlete’s foot, oral and vaginal thrush, ring worm, dandruff, fungal nails)
  • Antiperspirant treatment (excessive sweating)
  • Antiseptic creams and treatment for minor burns and scalds
  • Cold sore treatment
  • Colic treatment
  • Constipation treatment for short term use
  • Cough, cold and sore throat treatment
  • Cradle cap treatment
  • Diarrhoea treatment for short term use
  • Ear wax remover
  • Emollient bath oils and shower gels
  • Eye treatments/lubricating products (conjunctivitis/ dry eyes)
  • Fluoride containing products for prevention of dental caries
  • Haemorrhoid (piles) treatment
  • Hayfever treatment
  • Head lice treatment
  • Herbal and complementary treatments
  • Homeopathic preparations
  • Indigestion and heartburn (dyspepsia) treatment
  • Mild cystitis treatment
  • Moisturising creams, gels, ointments and balms for dry skin with no diagnosis.
  • Mouth ulcer treatment and treatment for teething
  • Mouthwash e.g. Corsodyl
  • Nappy rash treatment
  • Probiotics
  • Rubefacients
  • Sunburn treatment
  • Suncream
  • Threadworm treatment
  • Topical steroid treatment for insect bites/stings and contact dermatitis
  • Travel sickness treatment
  • Teething/mild toothache treatment
  • Vitamins and minerals including low dose Vitamin D and Lutein and antioxidants
  • Wart and verruca treatment

What general exclusions apply?
Please note being exempt from paying a prescription charge does not automatically warrant an exception to the NHS England Guidance for CCGS - 'Conditions for which over the counter medicines should not be routinely prescribed in primary care'.

The following exclusions may apply:

  • Medicines that can only be obtained with an NHS prescription - Prescription Only Medicines.
  • Where an over the counter (OTC) medicine is outside of its marketing authorisation, also known as “off-label use” or “unlicensed use”.
  • Frail or housebound patients.
  • Where there are possible safeguarding concerns or acute social vulnerability including but not limited to children and where there might be concerns that treatment might otherwise not be provided.
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