Medications no longer on prescription

NHS England has agreed plans to save hundreds of millions of pounds each year by recommending low value treatments, including fish oil, herbal remedies and homeopathy no longer be provided on the NHS, and launching a consultation on curbs to prescriptions for some ‘over the counter’ products such as paracetamol.

GPs issued 1.1 billion prescription items at a cost of £9.2 billion in 2015/16. The vast majority were appropriate but many were for medicines, products or treatments that do not require a prescription and can be purchased over the counter from pharmacies, supermarkets, petrol stations, corner shops or other retailers in some cases at a much lower cost than the price paid by the NHS.

The NHS could save around £190 million a year by cutting such prescriptions for minor, short-term conditions, many of which will cure themselves or cause no long term effect on health.

Over the counter products currently prescribed include cough mixture and cold treatments, eye drops, laxatives and sun cream lotions. A detailed follow-up consultation on an initial list of conditions will be launched in the New Year.

This will also free up millions of GP appointments that are currently taken up with prescribing these medicines.

NHS England will now press ahead with guidance to GPs and CCGs to remove 18 ineffective, unsafe and low clinical value treatments, such as some dietary supplements herbal treatments and homeopathy, saving up to £141 million a year.

These savings form a key building block of the NHS’s 10 point efficiency plan contained in the Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View, published in March 2017. They will be redeployed into frontline patient care.

Conditions affected by NHS prescription crackdown

    Acute sore throat
    Infrequent cold sores of the lip
    Coughs and colds and nasal congestion
    Cradle Cap (seborrhoeic dermatitis – infants)
    Infant colic
    Mild cystitis
    Mild irritant dermatitis
    Diarrhoea (adults)
    Dry eyes/sore (tired) eyes
    Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis)
    Head lice
    Indigestion and heartburn
    Infrequent constipation
    Infrequent migraine
    Insect bites and sting
    Mild acne
    Mild dry skin
    Sun protection
    Mild to moderate hay fever/seasonal rhinitis
    Minor burns and scalds
    Minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and/fever. (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain)
    Mouth ulcers
    Nappy rash
    Oral thrush
    Prevention of dental caries
    Ringworm/athletes foot
    Teething/mild toothache
    Travel sickness
    Warts and verruca

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