Buy own over the counter medicine to free up funds for NHS


Local people are being called on to help free up millions of pounds for frontline NHS services by buying low cost medicines, easily available from pharmacies and supermarkets, for short term ailments.

Many common ailments can be treated at home using medicines bought over the counter at a pharmacy or shop, such as paracetamols and antihistamines, which costs the NHS far more thorough a prescription and GP appointment than if people buy them themselves.

In Sussex and East Surrey more than £10 million is spent every year prescribing medicines and products easily available to buy over the counter. This includes a pack of painkillers costing around 30p from a pharmacy, but can cost the NHS more than £35.

If more people take responsibility for their self-care by buying over the counter medicines, the NHS will have more money to spend on nurses, cancer treatments and GP services.

Residents are being called on to #HelpMyNHS by buying their own easily available medicines for:

  • Travel sickness
  • Hayfever and other allergies
  • Indigestion or upset stomach
  • Pain and fever
  • Dry skin
  • Coughs, colds and sore throats

Pharmacists can also assess symptoms, advise on how people can care for themselves and help them buy the medicine they need. There is no need an appointment and many pharmacies are open late and at weekends.

Dr Elizabeth Gill - Clinical Chair of High Weald and Lewes CCG, said: “We are calling on local people to help their NHS by buying those medicines easily available from their local pharmacy or as part of their grocery shop, rather than seeking a prescription through a GP appointment.

“By encouraging more of our patients to self-care by buying over the counter medicines such as paracetamols and antihistamines, we will have more money to spend on nurses, cancer treatments and GP services.”

GPs will still be able to prescribe these medicines in circumstances such as when patients are experiencing long-term or more complex conditions, but in the majority of cases getting a prescription at extra cost to the NHS will not be necessary.