NHS Bury Clinical Commissioning Group (NHS Bury CCG) has today (Friday 15th March 2019) launched a four week engagement phase to gather views on conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed.

New Greater Manchester guidance, following a national consultation, has been issued to CCGs in relation to reducing prescribing of over the counter medicines for a range of minor, short term health conditions.

Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed include:

  • Those considered to be a self-limiting illness such as a sore throat, cough or cold.  These conditions will clear up of their own accord
  • Those that are considered to be a minor illness suitable for self-care such as dandruff and earwax.  A condition that is suitable for self-care does not require medical advice and can be treated with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy or other outlet
  • Items of low clinical effectiveness, this relates to vitamins, minerals and probiotics for which there is limited evidence of clinical effectiveness

Each year nationally the NHS spends over £550 million on prescriptions for medicines that could be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy or other outlet such as a supermarket. Nationally it is estimated that around 57 million GP appointments relating to minor conditions such as constipation, conjunctivitis and heartburn are booked each year.

The majority of the conditions included within the new guidance have not been routinely prescribed for by Bury GPs since September 2015, following the introduction of a local prescribing for clinical need policy.

Bury’s existing policy aims to ensure that NHS monies are only spent on medicines that are safe, clinically effective and provide a clear health benefit, freeing up resources to be spent elsewhere to improve health in Bury.  It also aims to free up GP time to deal with more complex cases and to encourage people to treat minor conditions at home with over the counter items if appropriate. Whilst a range of over the counter items for minor conditions are not routinely prescribed by local GPs, if it is felt there are exceptional circumstances, the decision will always remain with the prescribing clinician.

Following the publication of the new guidance, NHS Bury CCG’s proposal is to align more closely to it by updating its current local policy and including a number of additional conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed. However, before a decision is made, the CCG is keen to capture the views of local people, local health care professionals and other interested parties to ensure local issues are understood and considered.

Dr. Jeff Schryer, Chair of NHS Bury CCG said:

“Our local prescribing for clinical need policy has been in place for a number of years and includes a wide range of conditions for which over the counter items for minor conditions are not routinely prescribed by Bury GPs.  This  new guidance has given us a chance to review our local policy and our proposal is to update this to align more closely to the new guidance.  We want to capture the views of local people and health care professionals on the plans to ensure that local issues are understood and considered before a decision is made.”

The period of engagement will run for four weeks from Friday 15th March 2019 until 5pm on Friday 12th April 2019.

Share your views:

  • You can complete the online survey
  • The survey is also available in paper format by contacting us on 0161 253 7636 or by e-mail communications@nhs.net
  • Views can be sent to the CCG by:
    • Letter to, NHS Bury CCG, Townside Primary Care Centre, 1 Knowsley Place, Knowsley Street, Bury, BL9 0SN
    • E-mail to, communications@nhs.net

Feedback from the period of engagement will help to inform the CCG Governing Body in making a decision in relation to updating its local policy for conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in the future.