Oldhamers asked their opinion on changes to prescription medicine

Date published: 05 March 2019

Last year NHS England completed a national consultation that looked at 33 routinely prescribed treatments that have limited clinical value or for conditions which will eventually get better of their own accord.  On average the NHS spends around £569 million a year on these treatments.

NHS England issued guidance following the consultation that is underpinned by the following principles:

Encouraging people to take care of themselves and their families

Stopping the prescription of drugs which have limited clinical effectiveness

Reducing the prescription of drugs available over the counter for the treatment of minor conditions such as coughs and colds

Each year NHS Oldham CCG spends a significant amount of money on medicines that are available to purchase over-the-counter. Some of this cost relates to prescriptions for patients who have long-term or complex conditions, but a considerable portion is also spent on minor conditions that may be considered suitable for self-care.

Pharmacy First

People with minor ailments can often seek the right care and treatment after being signposted to community pharmacies, or local supermarkets and shops, where they can purchase over-the-counter treatments.

Pharmacists have a wealth of experience and training, particularly when it comes to treating minor ailments and no appointment is needed. Local pharmacies are also often open for longer hours than GP Practices, giving people an alternative to waiting for a doctor’s appointment when they may not really need one.

Dr John Patterson, Chief Clinical Officer for NHS Oldham CCG explains: “We want people in our communities to remain healthy for longer and by supporting them to adopt healthier lifestyles and self-manage common conditions and minor ailments, we aim to keep them well at home, avoiding unnecessary GP appointments and preventing admissions to hospital wherever possible.

GP appointments

Appointments and subsequent prescribing for minor ailments take up around an hour of every GP’s time each day. Nationally the cost to the NHS for this work amounts to £2billion every year, so by helping our local communities to self-manage common conditions, this could free up more time for patients who are in real need of clinical treatment.  It could also potentially help the NHS reinvest money to treat more serious conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Dr John Patterson adds: “The types of medications referred to in the guidance include paracetamol, which costs as little as 19p for 16 tablets. However, we are acutely aware that some individuals and families are unable to afford to pay for medication and as health professionals, we will retain the power to prescribe from the list of recommended treatments as and when appropriate.”

Local views

The CCG wants the views of local patients, the public and other stakeholders on the NHS England proposals before taking any further decision on whether to remove these products from routine prescriptions locally.

Further information can be found here read the supporting information and then complete the survey.

An easy read version of the survey is also available.


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