In the wake of constant NHS cuts, it has been revealed that patients will no longer be able to get paracetamol and other over-the-counter drugs to treat 35 conditions on the NHS.
The drugs used for all sorts of colds – as well as for dandruff, indigestion, and constipation – will be cut out of the NHS’s free prescription in order to drastically save money.
Other prescription drugs that are been stripped of their ‘free’ title include ones to treat diarrhoea, athletes’ foot, sore throats, coughs, colds, warts and ulcers as well as cough mixture, eye drops, laxatives and sun creams.
The move, which is expected to save £100 million every year, is an attempt to prioritise spends away from things which will, in most cases, clear themselves up naturally – or which most people can pay for treatment themselves, The Sun reports.
Bit harsh on those who can’t afford for their own medicine though.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, 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.
While those who can’t afford to pay for their own treatment will be left sore-headed and possibly worse, those with long-term conditions will continue to get their drugs for free.
Dr Graham Jackson, from NHS Clinical Commissioners, added:
It is not good use of the NHS’s limited resources to issue prescriptions for these products.
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.
Interestingly, for the NHS to prescribe a box of 32 paracetamol tablets, including dispensing and GP consultation fees, it costs £34. Whereas in most chemists you can pick up the same box for less than £1.
Another given example is of 12 anti-sickness tablets which cost £2 in a chemist whereas for the NHS to prescribe them along with dispensing fees, a GP appointment, and admin charges, it comes to £35.
John O’Connell, from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for items like anti-dandruff shampoo or athlete’s foot powder.
Cutting out wasteful spending like this will mean that precious resources can be focused on frontline services.
Patients too must remember that these items are not ‘free’ – the money comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, so NHS England should be applauded for this move.
Late last year it was reported that the NHS was planning to ban obese patients and smokers from having surgery unless they lose weight or kick their habit.
Under the controversial plans drawn up in Hertfordshire, the NHS say obese patients ‘will not get non-urgent surgery until they reduce their weight’, unless their circumstances are exceptional.
This harsher criteria comes despite an existing policy which delays surgery for up to nine months for those with a high BMI, requiring them to lose at least 10 per cent of their weight.
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Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.