A huge crackdown by medical chiefs means patients will no longer be able to get many ‘over the counter’ treatments on the NHS, including eye drops, laxatives, sun creams and cough mixtures.
This crackdown will also prohibit free prescriptions for diarrhoea, athlete’s foot, sore throats, coughs, colds, warts and ulcers. Paracetamols will also be banned.
The reasoning behind this dramatic ban is to cut costs for the NHS, with the hope of saving almost £100 million a year. It is believed this funding could be better distributed for more serious matters.
GPs will be therefore be prohibited from prescribing free medication for 35 minor ailments. This news comes after an NHS England board meeting on March 29.
The NHS banning paracetamol on prescription is amazing news. It cost around £10 for the NHS on prescription which is astounding.
— Rob Burgess (@RobBurgessGD) March 30, 2018
According to NHS England, Chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, has said:
Across the NHS our aim is to: ‘Think like a patient, act like a taxpayer’.
The NHS is probably the most efficient health service in the world, but we’re determined to keep pushing further.
Every pound we save from cutting waste is another pound we can then invest in better A&E care, new cancer treatments and much better mental health services.
This initiative will not impact prescriptions for long-term or complex health concerns, and will not apply in cases where minor ailments are symptomatic of something more severe.
Those who receive free prescriptions – for example, those earning below a certain income bracket – will not automatically be exempt from these new measures.
— Martin Shovel (@MartinShovel) March 31, 2018
This move has apparently gained widespread support, with 60 per cent of those consulted agreeing certain products should not be freely prescribed for a variety of minor illnesses.
Co-chair of NHS Clinical Commissioners Dr Graham Jackson, has made the following statement:
Unfortunately the NHS does not have unlimited resources and ensuring patients get the best possible care against a backdrop of spiralling demands, competing priorities and increasing financial pressures is one of the biggest issues CCGs face.
It is not good use of the NHS’s limited resources to issue prescriptions for products which are not clinically effective, or for conditions that will get better without treatment or whose symptoms can be managed with appropriate self-care.
On a daily basis, CCGs are forced to make difficult decisions that balance the needs of the individual against those of their entire local population.
We recognise that it may be difficult for some patients who have previously been prescribed these products, but it is right that we prioritise our spending on those that provide the best outcomes for patients. This new guidance provides clear direction to CCGs on where those priorities should lie.
The new 'over the counter' medicines guidance supports our wider ambition to ensure greater value from the NHS’ £17.4 billion medicines bill, through reducing waste, over-prescribing and over-treatment https://t.co/W1j6cMJslB #medicinesvalue #pharmacy24
— NHS England (@NHSEngland) March 30, 2018
According to NHS England, the NHS spends £4.5 million annually on anti-dandruff shampoos and £7.5 million on heartburn and indigestion treatments, as well as £5.5 million on mouth ulcers.
It is believed the £22.8 million spent on treating constipation could be used to fund approximately 900 community nurses; whereas the £3 million spent on fungal infections could be used to fund 810 hip operations.
The £2.8 million spent on treating diarrhoea is said to be enough to cover 2,912 cataract operations.
What assessment have you made of the unintended consequences? Please point me in the right direction..
— Graham Phillips (@grahamsphillips) March 30, 2018
Will NHSE use at least part of the savings to support overstretched GPs deliver frontline patient services?
— William Greenwood (@WilliamGreenwo2) March 31, 2018
What do you think of these new changes to the NHS?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.