Patients urged: please don’t request over-the-counter medicines on prescription

July 4, 2016

It’s your NHS – please use it wisely!

That’s the message to people in Kirklees as a new campaign seeks to highlight the true cost of providing small quantities of some common medicines on prescription.

In fact, some over-the-counter medicines are up to four times more expensive when prescribed, compared to the price in local pharmacies, shops and supermarkets.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) for Kirklees spend around £1.3 million in total each year on medicines which are readily available over-the-counter, a cost which is equivalent to 1,380 cataract operations.

The new campaign being launched by the CCGs in Kirklees encourages people to think about using NHS resources more effectively and to purchase small quantities of over-the counter-medicines for short term use from a local shop, supermarket or pharmacy.

Over-the-counter medicines include:

  • Antihistamines – a type of medicine used to treat a number of allergic conditions such as hayfever, itching, bites and stings
  • Painkillers – paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Nasal sprays for acute nasal congestion
  • Haemorrhoid treatments
  • Cough and cold remedies

By choosing inexpensive in-store brands, patients can buy their medicine for less than half the price the NHS pays when providing them on prescription.

Dr David Kelly, Chair of NHS North Kirklees CCG and local GP said: “We want to make patients aware of the true cost of drugs to the NHS.  You can buy 16 paracetamol tablets locally for between 20p and 40p.  The cost to the NHS of providing the same tablets on prescription is much more than this.

“At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressures, providing small quantities of these painkillers on prescription is not an effective use of money”.


The CCGs in Kirklees will be promoting this message through leaflets, posters, websites and social media and explaining that the money spent locally each year on prescribing over-the-counter medicines is equivalent to: 

  • 211 Hip operations
  • 1,380 Cataract operations
  • 91 Breast Cancer treatments
  • 43 Community nurses

They’ll also be advising people to speak to their pharmacist for advice on treating minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot.

Health advice and information about your nearest pharmacy and opening times is on the NHS Choices website

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