As hay fever season arrives in the UK, the local NHS are urging residents to consider buying their own hay fever treatment, instead of getting it on prescription, as it costs the service over £500,000 each year.
Hay fever affects one in four people in the UK and is mainly caused by grass pollen. However, in spring, tree pollen can be prevalent causing sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and a stuffy nose.
Antihistamines are usually the best treatment for hay fever and these can easily be bought from local pharmacies. Buying a packet of 30 tablets can cost as little as £2.75, but if a patient goes to their GP to get a prescription then it costs the NHS considerably more.
Sati Ubhi, associate director of medicines optimisation at Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG said: “Each year we spend £550,000 prescribing hay fever medication to patients in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. When you compare the cost it’s the same as 97 hip replacements or treating 142 patients for a stroke or 572 cataract operations.
“Visiting a local pharmacy is your best option. Just ask to speak to the pharmacist. They are experts in medications and can find you the right medication to help you. Community pharmacists can also offer advice on how to avoid triggers.”
Locally, the NHS spent over £4 million last year on prescribing medicines that can easily be bought at local pharmacies or supermarkets for less than it costs the NHS to prescribe. These medicines include painkillers, antihistamines, and indigestion remedies.
The CCG and GPs have been working together to encourage local residents to buy these low cost basic medications themselves instead of getting them on prescription, helping to reduce overall spend and GP consultation time.