Prescribing of over-the-counter medicines is changing

GPs in North East Lincolnshire will no longer usually prescribe medicines that patients can buy over-the-counter for a range of minor health concerns, including hay fever, coughs and colds, aches and pains and sunburn.

Patients are instead encouraged to visit their local pharmacy for advice and treatments. There’s no need to make an appointment to see a pharmacist, making it quicker and easier for patients, and helping to free up GP appointments for those who need them most.

Some of the products to treat minor, short-term illnesses can be purchased over-the-counter at a lower cost than that which would be incurred by the NHS.

Some medicines are also available from other retail outlets such as supermarkets, convenience stores and health food stores. These are usually general sales list items and can be purchased without advice from a pharmacist.

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Humber, Coast and Vale have adopted new guidance issued by NHS England last year following the results of a public consultation on the prescribing of over-the-counter medicines for minor, short-term health concerns.

The guidance does not affect the prescribing of over-the-counter treatments for long-term conditions or more complex conditions, or where minor illnesses are a symptom or side effect of a more serious condition.

The NHS spends around £136 million a year on prescriptions for medicines which could otherwise have been bought over-the-counter. By reducing the amount of money the NHS spends on over-the-counter medicines, the NHS can give priority to treatments for people with more serious conditions such as cancer, diabetes and mental illness.

Dr Anupam Sinha, local GP and a clinical lead for North East Lincolnshire CCG, said: “Our NHS services are precious and by buying medicines over-the-counter for minor health concerns from your local pharmacy or supermarket, rather than obtaining them on prescription, we can make more efficient use of NHS resources and free up more GP appointments for people who need them most.

“Having home remedies to hand ensures people can self-manage minor illness or injury. Medicines to keep in stock include pain relief tablets, antiseptic cream, cough remedies and antihistamines.” 

Alex Seale, Senior Responsible Officer for Planned Care at the Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership, said: “CCGs in Humber, Coast and Vale are working in partnership to ensure their populations are aware of the prescription changes happening nationally within the NHS. Empowering the public to self-manage minor conditions or injuries by buying products over-the-counter is a positive behavioural change we need to embed into our communities to ensure NHS resources are used effectively.” 

Visit www.prescriptionchanges.co.uk for more information about the prescribing changes and for a full list of conditions for which over-the-counter medicines will no longer be routinely prescribed.

 

 

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