Self care guidance for clinicians

NHS SWL are committed to delivering best value by ensuring that we use our resources well. To help us to support the implementation of the NHS England guidance ‘Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care’ (March 2018), SWL CCGs no longer support the routine prescribing of health supplements and medications that can be bought over the counter (OTC) for minor conditions,  self-limiting and short-term illnesses.  The NHS SWL position statement provides further information to clinicians and patients including exemptions to the guidance and medicines in schools and nurseries.

Why are we doing this?

  • We want to help people lead longer, healthier lives and support them to take better care of their health. Self-care is about avoiding becoming ill and seeking help when needed. By managing minor health needs through self-care, it  will help to ease the pressure on the NHS.
  • NHS SWL have a set amount of money to pay for the health services that are needed and have a duty to spend that money wisely.

What treatment and preparations are included?

  • Pharmacy Only (P) and General Sales Lists (GSL) treatments that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy with or without advice
  • GSL treatments (including a patient information leaflet) that can be purchased from other retail outlets such as supermarkets, petrol stations, convenience or discount stores
  • 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.
  • Treatments available OTC which should no longer be prescribed in SW London are listed below. 

Guidance for prescribers

The position statement will continue to rely on your clinical judgement for each individual patient as there are a number of exceptions that would need to be considered. For a full list of the exceptions, please see Appendix 1 of the position statement. To support this change in prescribing, self-care briefings on each condition including information on licensing, alternative products and approximate over the counter prices can be found below.

  • The Self Care Forum have produced fact sheets on 14 conditions that can be treated by over the counter medicines. You may find it helpful to use these to print out for your patients
  • NHS England has published patient material to support implementation of this guidance, including:
    • Patient leaflet
    • Easy to read version of the leaflet
    • A black and white handout for prescribers to hand directly to patients during a consultation

Patients should be advised that:

  • The NHS recommends everyone keeps a well-stocked medicine cabinet with self-care medicines.
  • Community pharmacists can offer advice on how to manage short term illnesses and minor conditions, when to seek medical advice, and what to take if they take other medications. Patients do not need to make an appointment to see the pharmacist, and many pharmacies are open late nights and that the weekend.
  • If their problem is more serious and needs the attention of another healthcare professional such as their GP, the pharmacist will advise them on this.

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