The local NHS is calling for patients to find out more about changes to prescribing and to provide their views on the changes before they take place.
From October, GPs will be encouraged by the three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland; East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG, Leicester City CCG and West Leicestershire CCG, to reduce the number of prescriptions they provide for medicines and treatments that are already available to buy in a pharmacy or supermarket.
This means that GPs, nurses and pharmacists will not routinely prescribe certain medicines for some minor health concerns.
Patients can ensure that their views are heard and that they are prepared for the changes before they are introduced by taking part in a survey. The survey will run between Monday 30 July 2018 and Sunday 9 September 2018. People will be able to read helpful information before they take part in the online survey by visiting their CCG’s website. Paper copies of the survey, posters and leaflets will also be available at GP surgeries across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and will also be available on the three CCG’s websites.
Dr Andy Ker, local GP and Clinical Vice-Chair at East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG, said: “Patients should familiarise themselves with the changes so that they know what to do and expect if they suffer from minor conditions which can be treated at home by taking medication that they can buy from pharmacies and supermarkets.
“By keeping a few useful medicines at home, common conditions such as sore throats and headaches can be treated immediately. Families with children should also keep medicines suitable for them.”
“Local pharmacists can provide general advice on what medicines to keep at home, where to store them safely and how to use them.”
The initiative follows national recommendations from NHS England to encourage people to self-care and to reduce the amount of money the NHS spends on medicines which are available to buy for a cheaper cost over the counter. The recommendations can be viewed here.
Dr Ker added: “In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland alone, between April 2017 and March 2018, the NHS spent £4.1m on prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket.
“By saving money on items which are readily available, we can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and mental health problems.”
People with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, or with more complex illnesses as well as patients on treatments only available on prescription will not be affected by the changes. The changes will also not apply to those who have found that over-the-counter products haven’t helped and patients who are unable to treat themselves.
Dr Paul Danaher, GP and prescribing lead for Leicester City CCG, said: “At the same time, in Leicester city we are also reviewing whether to continue with the Pharmacy First Minor Ailments Scheme, which is where a city patient can receive medication for minor ailments free of charge from some pharmacies, without having to see a GP. We would also like to know people’s views on this.
“We do recognise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not always appropriate and there may be cases where we will make an exception, such as for people who cannot afford over the counter medicines. This is why we encourage people to tell us what they think, so that we can fully understand how the changes may affect people.”
Patients can ensure that their views are heard and that they are prepared for the changes before they are introduced by taking part in a survey. The survey will run between Monday 30 July 2018 and Sunday 9 September 2018.