A planned ‘ban’ on ‘low value’ prescribed medicines in the bid to save the NHS millions of pounds has sparked a call in Shropshire to use your local pharmacist.
The call comes after it was revealed that some medication may no longer be available on the NHS in England as part of a crackdown on ‘low value’ medicines.
These include suncream, cold remedies, heartburn medicines and some types of pain relief and travel vaccines. It follows health bosses identifying £400m spending which, they say, is on items that have little or no clinical value.
Martin Lunt, the owner of Lunts Pharmacies, which has four pharmacies in Shropshire, said the moves could lead to a ban or tighter controls on several products which are presently prescribed by GPs.
“By cutting back with an initial list of 10 items it is estimated the NHS could save £100m a year,” he said. “It is important to remind people their local pharmacy can offer advice on the most suitable medication to deal with minor ailments.
“A number of items on the list of 10 are available over the counter at a cost lower than that of prescribing them. It is important to try and cut the number of prescriptions in a bid to save money. It is believed only one in 10 prescriptions currently handed in are paid for and not subject to some exemption.”
The original list of 10 includes Gluten-free foods, plasters for treating nerve-related pain, travel vaccines, rubs and ointments and omega 3 and fish oils.
Other items items have already been highlighted and would be considered for inclusion in the ‘banned’ list at a future date. These include suncream, cough and cold remedies and indigestion and heartburn medicines – which it is estimated could save the NHS £400m.
Mr Lunt added: “It is important to make people aware that all these medications and treatments are available from their pharmacist and that is something to consider now the NHS is talking about not prescribing them.
“We are talking about things like analgesics, hay fever treatment and indigestion remedies. Pharmacies are able to give advice before purchasing suitable remedies and some products are legally classified as “pharmacy only”.
“There is really little point going to your GP or hospital with a minor ailment they won’t prescribe for, when you can come to the pharmacist and get the appropriate advice and quicker service by buying over the counter.
“The NHS is actually increasing expenditure but it has to make difficult decisions to prioritise where that money is spent and this is an area where it can achieve that goal without it impacting on people’s health and welfare. There isn’t a ban on treating these conditions, just an easier, cheaper and more efficient way of dealing with the patient by making better use of the pharmacist.”