Self care 'recommendation prescriptions'

recommendation prescription pad

PAGB is calling for the introduction of recommendation prescriptions for GPs to recommend appropriate over-the-counter (OTC) treatments and give self care advice to people with self-treatable conditions.

The recommendation prescriptions are one of a package of measures which should be implemented as part of a wider self care strategy. These measures, set out in PAGB’s Self Care White Paper: supporting the delivery if the NHS Long Term Plan are needed to support policy initiatives on self care, such as NHS England guidance to CCGs which sets out specific conditions for which OTC medicines should no longer be prescribed by the NHS.

News: New GP ‘recommendation prescriptions’ could help NHS save millions by empowering people to self care for minor illnesses

Comment (P3 magazine column): Introduction of GP ‘recommendation prescriptions’ would empower more people to self care

 What is a recommendation prescription?

The proposed ‘recommendation prescriptions’ include space for GPs to write details of the minor illness, any self care advice and details of OTC medicines they recommend the patient purchases via a pharmacy, where appropriate.

Why is it needed?

PAGB’s self care nation research shows that almost a third of people (32%) are visiting the GP for minor health concerns, such as a sore throat, when self care would be much quicker and more convenient for the individual. When asked the reasons why they visited their GP instead of a pharmacist, 42% said it was so they could get a prescription to treat symptoms, and 36% wanted expert healthcare advice.

The NHS is overstretched and experiencing increasing demand, especially in primary care, often leading to long waits for GP appointments. The benefits of promoting self care for self-treatable conditions are increasingly being recognised as one of the ways to reduce demand and to work towards a more sustainable NHS.

In March 2018, NHS England published guidance advising GPs not to prescribe over-the-counter medicines to people with self-treatable conditions and to encourage people to self care. PAGB believes this needs to be supported with a wider set of measures to support self care.

Other measures which PAGB believes should be introduced under a national self care strategy include:

View the full list of PAGB policy priorities.

Read about it on our news page

A doctor’s view on the recommendation prescription

Watch our short video in which GP Dr Sarah Jarvis, and John Smith, CEO at PAGB, explain more about how recommendation prescriptions can help both doctor and patient.

Does it work?

PAGB is confident that the ‘recommendation prescriptions’ will make a positive difference to self care in the UK, saving the NHS money and reducing demand on stretched services. The Grüne Rezept (Green Prescription) was successfully introduced in Germany in 2004, with excellent results. We’ve been talking to the German Medicines Manufacturers Association to apply learnings from their experience:

What other support is available to health professionals?

OTC directory

PAGB produces the OTC directory of self care products for self-treatable conditions.

The OTC directory is sent to GPs, practice nurses, pharmacists, schools of pharmacy and other health professionals across the country. It provides a detailed guide to the consumer healthcare products that are available in the UK without a prescription and is intended to help with recommending suitable products to patients and providing information about how to use OTC products safely. It’s also available online.

Find out more



Self Care Forum logo

Self Care Forum factsheets are used by health professionals to understand self-treatable conditions and how to advise people presenting with them.

The factsheets are available to download from the Self Care Forum website. They are included as recommended resources for GPs in the Guidance to CCGs on conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed.

View the factsheets