In recent years, the NHS as a whole has spent millions of pounds on prescribing medicines that could have otherwise been purchased by patients at a cheaper price from a supermarket or other retail outlet. 

Following a national consultation, the NHS introduced a list of 33 illnesses that GPs - including those working in Swindon - will no longer be able to prescribe medicines for. 

Among the conditions included on the list were: 

  • Sore throats
  • Cold sores
  • Coughs and nasal congestion
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Dandruff
  • Head lice
  • Indigestion and heartburn 
  • Mild acne
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Travel sickness

The full list of conditions can be seen by clicking here

Restrictions on the prescription of vitamins, minerals, probiotics and other items of limited clinical effectiveness have also been introduced.


What this means in Swindon

The new prescribing rules mean that GPs in Swindon can now no longer issue prescriptions for conditions that can be easily taken care of through self care. 

For patients already familiar with looking after themselves at home, these new rules will not have a significant impact. 

People who would have previously defaulted to contacting their GP when feeling unwell with one of the conditions mentioned above are now encouraged to:

  • Seek help online from the NHS website 
  • Visit a local pharmacist for guidance on common minor illnesses 
  • Have a well-stocked medicine cabinet 


Exceptions to the new rules

There are some scenarios in which people will still be prescribed medicines and treatments as before.

Some of these scenarios are listed below:

  • When a patient has been prescribed an over-the-counter medicine for a long-term condition (e.g. regular pain relief for chronic arthritis)
  • When a patient is suffering from a more severe form of a minor illness (e.g. severe migraines that do not respond to standard pain relief)
  • When a clinician believes that a patient does not have the ability or capacity to safely self-care, such as people with learning disabilities 
  • When a patient has a particular set of complex health needs, such as people with immunodeficiency disorders

The full list of exceptions can be seen by clicking here


Find out more

Learn more about the changes to the way in which over-the-counter medicines are prescribed by clicking the links below.