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Patients back move to reduce prescriptions for minor conditions

3rd October 2018 | By Communications Team | Posted in

GPs will no longer provide prescriptions for medications and treatments which are available to buy over the counter at pharmacies and supermarkets. 

The move follows guidance for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) issued by NHS England, calling for people to self-care by purchasing medicines and treating themselves for minor conditions at home.

East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group (ELR CCG) has been engaging with patients to hear what they have to say about the changes. The CCG visited some of its largest practices, gathering patients’ views and speaking to them face-to-face about the changes.

The CCG also undertook a six-week survey relating to the initiative. The survey was completed by 358 people and found that 92% of respondents were happy to purchase medicines and treatments available over the counter, to treat minor or self-limiting conditions. Additionally, 86% felt that the NHS should not prescribe items which are available over the counter, to treat minor conditions. Minor conditions include common colds, sore throats and headaches.

Dr Andy Ker, local GP and Clinical Vice-Chair at East Leicestershire and Rutland CCG, said: “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.”

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 reducing the amount of money the NHS spends on medicines which are available to buy for a cheaper cost over the counter, priority can be given to 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.

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