NHS doctors to stop issuing prescriptions for 35 minor medical conditions – what are they?

Davina McCall celebrates HRT prescription changes

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The health body will no longer prescribe drugs for 35 conditions, which patients will have to purchase from their local pharmacy or supermarket going forward. The plan to dial back on prescriptions was devised with the aim of allocating funds to treatments for more serious conditions, according to the health body. Many of the conditions listed below are able to resolve on their own, but prescriptions may still be issued if an exemption applies.

The health body said: “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.”

The 35 conditions NHS doctors will no longer be prescribing medication for will be:

  • Acute sore throat
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughs, colds, and nasal congestion
  • Cradle cap
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry eyes / sore tired eyes
  • Earwax
  • Excessive sweating
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Head live
  • Indigestion and heartburn
  • Infant colic
  • Infrequent cold sores of the lip
  • Infrequent constipation
  • Infrequent migraine
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Mild acne
  • Mild 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 pain, headache, period pain, back pain)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nappy rash
  • Oral thrush
  • Prevention of tooth decay
  • Ringworm/athlete’s foot
  • Sunburn
  • Sun protection
  • Teething / mild toothache
  • Threadworms
  • Travel sickness
  • Warts and verrucae

READ MORE: Free prescriptions: All seven groups eligible for free medication on the NHS

The NHS added: “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.”

Exceptions may come into effect in cases where people have a long-term condition that requires medicine for any of the 35 conditions listed above.

Other exceptions could be made if an OTC drug proves ineffective, or a health practitioner believes a patient is unable to treat themselves.

Certain probiotics, vitamins and minerals will also no longer be available through prescription, as most of these medications can be obtained from a balanced diet, or purchased from a health food shop.

It comes as NHS single prescription charges in England are also set to be frozen for the first time in 12 years.

The government has confirmed charges will remain at £9.35 until next year, instead of rising as a result of inflation.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the move will help “put money back in people’s pockets”.

Mr Javid added: “The rise in the cost of living has been unavoidable as we face global challenges and the repercussions of Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.

“Whilst we can’t completely prevent these rises, where we can help – we absolutely will.”

Those who will remain eligible for free prescriptions will include anyone on state benefits, pregnant women and new mothers, people with specified medical conditions or disabilities, and the over-60s or under-16s.

Laura Cockram, chairwoman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said the government should re-evaluate the list of those eligible for free prescriptions.

She noted that prescription exemption charge lists were compiled more than 50 years ago when conditions like HIV didn’t even exist.

At the time, there were “no life-saving treatments” for conditions like asthma, Parkinson’s and MS either, according to Miss Cockram.

The government also recently proposed plans to increase the age for free prescriptions from 60, to be in line with the state pension age – but no decisions have yet been made on this.

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