Over the counter medicines 

In line with national guidance, we now have a CCG policy listing those over the counter medicines that are no longer recommended to be routinely prescribed by GPs, nurses or pharmacists. You will see there are some exceptions included in the policy and our more vulnerable patients are reminded to use the Care at the Chemist service available in 20 pharmacies across Sefton.

Many common conditions do not need a prescription and they will often get better on their own, with medicines that can help with the symptoms, bought easily from pharmacists, supermarkets and local retailers. They are known as ‘over the counter’ medicines and you do not need to have seen a doctor or have a prescription to buy them. That means you don't have to wait for an appointment at your GP practice.

The minor illnesses that the policy lists include short-term conditions like:

  • sore throats
  • coughs, colds and nasal congestion
  • dandruff
  • mild acne
  • minor pain, discomfort and fever
  • sunburn and more

The Sefton medicines self care policy for minor illnesses and/or self limiting conditions does have a number of exceptions where you may still be prescribed a medicine for a condition on the list if:

  • You need treatment for a long term condition, e.g. regular pain relief for chronic arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease
  • You need treatment for more complex forms of minor illnesses, e.g. migraines that are very bad and where over the counter medicines do not work
  • You need an over the counter medicine to treat a side effect of a prescription medicine or symptom of another illness, e.g. constipation when taking certain painkillers
  • The medicine has a licence which doesn’t allow the product to be sold over the counter to certain groups of patients. This could include babies, children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • The person prescribing thinks that a patient cannot treat themselves, for example because of mental health problems or severe social vulnerability

This policy does not remove the clinical discretion of prescribers in accordance with their professional duties.

For more information please see:

For more details, please read the full press release.