From wine to washing-up liquid: Top 13 most ridiculous items once available on NHS prescription

Wine used to be available on the NHS. Picture: PA/thinkstockphotos

Wine used to be available on the NHS. Picture: PA/thinkstockphotos - Credit: PA

Attitudes on what should be available on prescription have radically changed, a Suffolk survey has found, with 96% of people saying they are now prepared to buy medicine for minor conditions from a pharmacy.

In 1985, the NHS established a blacklist of items which could no longer be prescribed for patients. This includes coffee, wine, communion wafers, washing-up liquid, margarine and even make-up, although no new products have been added since 2004.

A survey carried out by health commissioners in Suffolk shows people are recognising the pressures facing the NHS, taking more responsibility for their own wellbeing and have confidence in their pharmacist to seek help and advice for problems they would previously have gone to their GP about.

Of those questioned, 91% believe a pharmacist is a well-trained health professional who can help with minor problems; and 62% say a pharmacist had helped them deal with a minor complaint in the last year.

While 83% of those who are entitled to free prescriptions say they feel they should buy any medicines that are available over-the-counter; and 79% feel they can easily identify which medicines they need at a pharmacy.

Linda Lord, chief pharmacist at the West Suffolk NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “These survey results are incredibly encouraging as they show that most people are aware of just how much help and advice is available from their local pharmacy.

“No one nowadays expects to receive wine, coffee or face powder on prescription. Today, many people recognise the changing role of the NHS as well as realising that popping in to the pharmacy for advice and purchasing medicine for a minor health condition is far quicker and just as effective as making an appointment at the GP practice.”

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Although this is a positive step in the right direction, Catherine Butler, head of GP prescribing at Ipswich and East Suffolk NHS CCG, said more needed to be done.

In 2016/17, the NHS in Suffolk spent around £3.2 million on prescription medicine that could have been purchased from a pharmacy.

Ms Butler added: “We would encourage as many people as possible to use pharmacy services.”

Examples of treatments that are available over-the-counter, but which are commonly requested on prescription, include hay fever tablets, indigestion remedies, pain killers, moisturisers, rubs for muscle and joint pain, diarrhoea relief, eye drops for dry eyes and vitamins.

Here is a list of just some of the items that were once available on NHS prescription:

• Fairy washing-up liquid

• Crusha milkshake powder

• Cadbury’s Coffee Compliment

• Scholl refresher foot spray

• Wine

• Max Factor face powder

• Lucozade

• Jordans crunchy bars

• Ribena

• Flora margarine

• Dove soap

• Nescafe instant coffee

• Communion wafers