No more drops from the docs

No more drops from the docs

Each year your local NHS spends millions of pounds on free prescriptions for medicines for minor health concerns such as hay fever or dry eyes. We believe this money could be better spent on essential healthcare services that treat more serious conditions.

A minor health concern is a condition you can treat yourself with items you can quickly and easily buy from your local pharmacy or supermarket, such as hay fever, aches and pains, indigestion or coughs and colds.

Therefore, your GP won’t usually prescribe medicines for minor health concerns you can buy quite easily from your local pharmacy or supermarket. Sometimes you may need advice for a minor health concern, don’t forget your local pharmacist is a trained healthcare professional who can give you the clinical guidance and support you need.  You can talk to them in confidence and many have a consultation area where you can discuss your health concerns in private.

By introducing these changes not only will you save time, as you no longer need to book an appointment to visit your GP, it helps save the NHS money that can be spent on more serious conditions and helps to free up GP appointments for those with more long-term, complex health problems.

Visit the website for more detail.

Long-term health conditions

We understand that many of you with a long-term or more complex condition receive medicines on a regular basis to manage your condition. We want to reassure you that these changes do not affect you. If you have a long-term or complex condition and require ongoing prescription medication from your GP, please do not worry, you will continue to receive your medication on prescription where clinically appropriate.

There are a number of other exceptions, visit the NHS website for more information.

What is a minor health concern medicine?

Your GP, nurse or pharmacist will not generally give you a prescription for certain medicines that are available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket, even if you qualify for free prescriptions. This applies to treatments for these conditions:

Acute sore throat

Cold sores


Coughs and colds and nasal congestion

Cradle cap (Seborrhoeic dermatitis – infancts)


Infant colic

Mild cystitis

Contact dermatitis


Diarrhoea (adults)


Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)


Indigestion and heartburn

Infrequest constipation

Infrequent migraine

Insect bites and stings

Mild acne

Mild dry skin/sunburn

Mild to moderate hay fever/ allergic rhinitis

Minor burns and scalds

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 dental caries

Ringworm/athletes foot

Teething/mild toothache


Travel sickness

Warts and verrucae



Why have we made these changes?

In 2016, we engaged with local residents, stakeholders and interested parties to look at how we can do things different to ensure we use our funding appropriately and fairly. Visit our medicines and prescribing page to read more about the changes we introduced.

Following our changes, we launched ‘Don’t swallow up your NHS’ informing people of the change and encouraging people to buy medicines over the counter. Thanks to the change in behaviour of local residents, pharmacies and GP Practices, we saved over £1.6m in 2016/17 and a further £3.7m in 2017/18.

NHS England changes to prescribing medicines

In 2018, NHS England launched a public consultation on reducing the types of prescriptions you can receive for medicines you can buy over the counter. Visit their website for more information on their consultation, proposals and recommendations.