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Changes to products available on prescription

Changes to products available on prescription

NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recommended that GPs stop routinely prescribing branded medicines and a number of lower value, self-care products, which are widely available to buy without a prescription from pharmacies and supermarkets, including:

  • Baby milks
  • Infant colic products
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Emollients (moisturisers) for minor dry skin conditions
  • Cosmetic products, including eflornithine for facial hair
  • Antifungal nail paints
  • Sunscreen products

Increasing demand for NHS services, as well as the effects of national austerity measures, means that the organisation must make difficult, but clinically-led, decisions to ensure that the money available can meet the health needs of people in Calderdale.

By not routinely prescribing these self-care treatments the NHS in Calderdale could save £300,000 each year, while £100,000 is spent every year on prescribing branded medicines without a medical reason, where a non-branded (generic) medicine containing the same active ingredient would be as effective.

This decision has been made following public opinion and feedback gathered in our public consultation: Changing the way we prescribe in Calderdale, which ran from 16 October – 4 December 2017.


While a number of self-care products are no-longer available on prescription, there are exceptions in which these treatments can be prescribed:

  • Baby milks and formula for infants diagnosed with cows’ milk protein allergy,  specialist metabolic disorders, for premature and other infants on the recommendation of a paediatric dietician/paediatrician where feeds are not readily available.
  • Vitamins for a diagnosed vitamin deficiencies and following weight loss surgery.
  • Emollients for patients with diagnosed psoriasis or eczema, foot care in diabetic patients, lymphoedema and to prevent skin ulceration in fragile patients.
  • Sunscreen for patients diagnosed with abnormal reactions to sunlight.
  • Branded medicines may still be prescribed where there is a clinical reason. For example some medicines for epilepsy need to be prescribed by brand. The CCG will also prescribe by brand where this is cost effective or recommended by local and national guidelines.

Frequently asked questions

I have eczema and need to use regular moisturisers (emollients) to manage this, will I still be able to get them on prescription?

Yes. The CCG is only recommending stopping moisturisers (emollients) on prescription for mild dry skin. For patients with diagnosed skin conditions such as eczema they are still available on prescription. See exemptions for further details.

I am on a low income and currently get a ‘stay down’ infant formula from my doctor. I am worried about the extra cost.

Families on low income may be entitled to vouchers for baby milks/ formulas and vitamins, see

I have been advised in the past to try colic treatments for my baby and have found them helpful. Where can I get them now?

These are still available to buy from pharmacies, supermarkets and shops in Calderdale, however there is little clinical evidence that they are effective.

Guidance on how to manage colic can be found on

Local information can be found at

Why are you making these changes?

Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group does not recommend that GPs provide these products on prescription because they are self-care treatments, widely available from pharmacies, shops and supermarkets.

Your local NHS spends more than £300,000 every year prescribing these lower-value medicines and products. By making this change the NHS can spend this money on treatments that have a greater impact on people’s health.

I am worried about the cost of buying these products as I have always had them on prescription.

Most of these self-care treatments and products are available to buy in pharmacies and shops at a lower price than it costs the NHS to provide on prescription.

In many cases, there is little clinical evidence as to their effectiveness and the NHS making this change the NHS can spend this money on and treatments that have a greater impact on people’s health.

Where can I get advice on the best product to buy?

Your local Community Pharmacist is a fully qualified health professional who will be able to advise you on the best product to meet your specific needs.

I have tried to buy antifungal nail paint at my pharmacy and can’t as too many nails are affected – I can’t get it on prescription anymore, what do I do now?

See your GP who will assess the nail infection and can prescribe other treatments that are more evidence based if appropriate.

I have always preferred a certain brand of tablets, will they change? Will they work if they do?

It is likely they will change unless there is a clinical reason for the brand being prescribed .

The colour, size or shape of a medicine may change depending on which company makes it. However, the medicine will have the same effect as your usual brand.

Generic  (unbranded) and branded medicines have the same active ingredients and the same medical effect. In the UK there are strict quality controls that must be met before a medicine can be prescribed, so generic and branded medicine will always be of the same quality.

Check with your pharmacist or GP if you have any concerns about using a particular medicine.

I have been told it is important for me to have the same brand of medicine so will I still get it?

Yes, if there is a clinical reason why a particular brand is needed it will still be available for you. Your doctor is aware of the situations when this is recommended.

The CCG will also prescribe by brand where this is cost effective or recommended by local and national guidelines.

I use Eflornithine to help reduce excess facial hair associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – I am concerned about not getting it.

There is little clinical evidence that Eflornithine is effective, and while you may have had some benefit from using it there may be more effective treatments for use in PCOS, so please discuss this with your GP.

How do I give feedback or make a complaint?

Patients should speak to their GP practice in the first instance if they have any concerns about the changes.

If you wish to raise a formal complaint specifically about the changes being made, contact the CCG via


Resources and further information


Consultation report: changing the way we prescribe in Calderdale (December 2017) 1.32 MB 10 downloads

This public consultation gathered public opinion and feedback about the CCG's proposals...

Baby formulas and vitamins 0.00 KB 0 downloads

Families with a low income can get vouchers for baby milks and also access vitamins...

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