Self-Care Guidance

Background and frequently asked questions to self-care guidance

What is happening?

Medicines listed within the self-care policy will no longer routinely be prescribed for short term minor conditions and patients will be expected to buy these over-the-counter. Patients are advised to speak to their local pharmacist for advice and guidance to support a pharmacy first approach to healthcare advice. 

Some medicines are only available over-the-counter in certain circumstances. For example, some medicines are age restricted. Where this is the case a healthcare professional will be able to prescribe these medicines. Medications will still be available if a patient needs them for a long-term condition or needs a higher dose/strength than is available over-the-counter. 

Self-care medicines for patients in Warwickshire: 

The list compromises all the medicines that are considered part of the self-care guidance, unless there is an exceptional circumstance, or a patient has a long-term condition, the patient will need to buy these medicines over-the-counter: 

  • Pain killers for minor aches and pains 
  • Tonics, vitamins and health supplements 
  • Ear wax removers 
  • Lozenges, throat sprays, mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes 
  • Indigestion remedies for occasional use 
  • Creams for bruising, tattoos, and scars 
  • Hair removal creams 
  • Moisturisers and bath additives for dry skin 
  • Sun creams 
  • Foods and food supplements 
  • Pain relief cream/ointment for short-term use 
  • Oral antihistamines for hay fever 
  • Decongestant nasal sprays and tablets 
  • Teething gels and mouth ulcer treatments 
  • Vaginal moisturisers (for example lubricant gels and creams) 
  • Warts and verrucae paints 
  • Heparinoid gel/cream 
  • Antiperspirants 
  • Antifungal treatments (for example for athletes foot) 
  • Treatments for bites and stings 
  • Treatments for cold sores 
  • Antibacterial eye drops 
  • Treatment for diarrhoea 
  • Head lice treatments 
  • Treatments for infant colic 
  • Creams/ointments for nappy rash 
  • Threadworm treatments 
  • Treatments for vaginal thrush
  • Haemorrhoids treatment 
  • Cough preparations 
  • Eye care products (for example blepharitis wipes) 
  • Probiotics 
  • Treatments for mild acne 
  • Dandruff and cradle cap treatments 
  • Baby milks (unless a clinical need for a specialist milk) 

Why are we doing this? 

The NHS spend an estimated 136 million on prescribing medicines that patients can buy over-the-counter for minor, short term health problems. 

We feel this is money that could, and should, be spent on other vital treatments for local people and make better use of our precious NHS resources. 

Are there any exclusions as to what I can buy over the counter?                                        

Yes, some medicines are only available over the counter in certain circumstances. Where this is the case a healthcare professional will be able to prescribe these medicines. 

I currently don’t pay for my prescriptions will I still be able to get the listed medications from my GP? 

No, these medications will no longer be prescribed to any patient. However, exceptional clinical need can be determined by your healthcare professional. 

I have a long-term condition and currently receive self-care medicines that are not directly related to my long-term condition - will I continue to receive these self-care medicines?        

No. If the free medicines you take are not related to your long-term condition and are categorised as self-care medicines, you’ll need to buy these over-the-counter from a local pharmacy unless there is an exceptional clinical need. 

Isn’t this a blanket ban on me accessing medicines?                                                           

No, access to medicines will continue to be available via a patient centred approach and, in some instances, it may not be appropriate to signpost patients for self-care medication. Where this is the case a healthcare professional will be able to prescribe these medicines. 

These medications will still be available if a patient needs them for a long-term condition or needs a higher dose/strength than is available over the counter. 

Can I still go and see my GP or Nurse? 

This isn’t about stopping you seeing your GP or Nurse. If you are worried about your symptoms and you haven’t seen an improvement after self-care at home, your GP Practice is the right point of call. 

I am on a repeat prescription for some of these medications what will happen?     

Speak to your GP practice about any impact for you if you have a repeat prescription. Some historic repeat prescriptions will need to be reviewed, not all current repeat medicines will be appropriate with the new guidance. Your GP/ healthcare provider will assess this on an individual basis. 

Are GPs aware of these changes? 

Yes, all GP practices have been informed through the CCG’s existing communication channels about the changes brought about by this NHS England consultation. 

What’s happening nationally about reviewing medicines?                                                   

NHS England has partnered with NHS Clinical Commissioners to support CCGs in ensuring that we use our prescribing resources most effectively and deliver best patient outcomes from the medicines that our local population uses. 

Where can I get self-care information?                                                                                        

Self-care information leaflets will be provided to all local GP surgeries. 

What should patients do if they have a concern? 

They can contact the local CCG (see details below) or provide feedback to the GP surgery directly. 

South Warwickshire CCG Feedback:


Alternatively online feedback form can be accessed via :