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Minor conditions prescribing policy

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POSITION STATEMENT: We expect that patients with minor conditions suitable for self care will buy over-the-counter medicines when it is appropriate to do so. All prescribers within the NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG area, including non-medical prescribers, GPs, out-of-hours and A&E departments, should not prescribe readily available over-the-counter medicines.


NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG along with NHS South Cheshire CCG and NHS Vale Royal CCG have developed and are now implementing a policy to help reduce general practice consultations and prescriptions for minor conditions which are suitable for self care. This policy can be found to the right.
In March 2016 we began speaking to prescribers and the public about this draft policy. In general, it received a positive reception, and feedback from initial conversations helped develop a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) to give more information. Patients felt that if the proposals outlined in the draft policy were agreed, then there would need to be greater communication and awareness of how and when to self care. The CCG is committed to ongoing communication and engagement, alongside key health and care partners, to encourage patients to manage minor conditions without the need for a GP appointment, NHS prescription or visit to an emergency department.
Before we introduced this policy we undertook a period of public and stakeholder engagement, which ran from 11 August to 14 September 2016. We sought the publics views on a draft policy. We took a report (paragraph 6.6) to our Governing Body on 28 September 2016 summarising the findings of our engagement and to seek authority to introduce the policy in line with the results. Governing Body supported the policy and asked Executive Prescribing Committee to implement it in-line with the findings of our engagement.
Our engagement consisted of:
  • face-to-face conversations at numerous public events
  • a survey made available on this web page and in paper form via our partners and at the above events
  • face-to-face engagement with our GPs and local pharmacists
  • a presentation to the Cheshire East Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Read the report here.
  • a presentation to our patient and carer reference group, Eastern Cheshire HealthVoice.


The results of the engagement can be found to the right or by CLICKING HERE


Why has the CCG developed this policy?

The majority of people feel comfortable managing everyday minor conditions like coughs and colds themselves, particularly when they feel confident in recognising the symptoms and have successfully treated themselves with over-the-counter (OTC) treatments before. Despite people’s willingness to self-treat, there are still 57 million GP consultations nationally each year for minor conditions at a total cost to the NHS of £2 billion. These appointments take up an average one hour a day for every GP.

Providing an environment that supports self care has been shown to:

  • improve the health and wellbeing of local communities
  • raise awareness of and increase access to suitable providers of healthcare advice and support
  • reduce avoidable appointments in general practice, thus helping safeguard appointment time for patients with more serious health problems
  • reduce avoidable visits to the local emergency departments and appointments with out-of-hours GP services
  • reduce NHS expenditure on medicines that can be bought in the community without prescription, thus helping safeguard local NHS resources for medicines that are only available on prescription, as well as other services.

Benefits of implementing this policy

It is estimated that by implementing this policy:

  • every GP in Eastern Cheshire will have up to one hour a day freed up to see patients with more serious conditions
  • up to £47,000 a month in local NHS expenditure on prescription costs can be saved
  • there will be a reduction in medicines waste and costs associated with medicines waste
  • patients and carers will be better informed of how to manage minor conditions.

Who would this policy affect?

  • All patients registered with NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG general practices, regardless of whether or not they pay for prescriptions
  • all prescribers within the NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG area, including non-medical prescribers, GPs, out-of-hours and A&E departments.

More information?

As well as encouraging self-care and increasing GP availability for appointments, the policy will save around £500,000 a year and help us balance our books while protecting vital services. We need to save £9.7m in 2016-17 to achieve an end-of-year deficit of £3.8m agreed with NHS England. The reasons for the financial challenge we face are described in an open letter by our chief officer, Jerry Hawker.

You can read our financial recovery plan here.

For more information, contact Usman Nawaz, CCG engagement and involvement manager, via email or call 01625 663864.