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Featured Thursday, Aug 23 2018

CCG makes changes to its prescribing policy in line with national guidance

medicines in blister packaging and brown glasses in backlight

GP surgeries across East Berkshire will no longer routinely prescribe a range of over the counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins and minerals associated with short term conditions and minor ailments.

NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has confirmed the change which was approved by the CCG’s Quality and Constitutional Standards Committee on Tuesday 14 August 2018. The change will come into effect from Saturday 1 September 2018.

It follows a national consultation and subsequent NHS England guidance which recommends that OTC medicines associated with minor, short-term conditions, which can either get better by themselves, or can be self-treated by an individual, should no longer be made available on NHS prescription.

During June 2016 and June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines which could have been purchased OTC from a pharmacy or other outlets such as supermarkets. Between April 2017 and March 2018, GP practices in East Berkshire spent over £3.7 million.

Medicines which will no longer be routinely prescribed include treatments for coughs, colds, dandruff, mild acne, nappy rash, warts and verrucae, ear wax, head lice and mild dry skin.

However, in line with national guidance, the CCG has agreed exceptions , which include:

  • Patients prescribed an over the counter medicine for a long term or more complex condition or
  • Where a clinician considers that a patient’s wellbeing could be affected due to health, mental health or significant social vulnerability

Catriona Khetyar, the CCG’s Head of Medicines, said: “We have amended our prescribing policy to reflect the recommended changes nationally. This means GPs in East Berkshire will no longer prescribe medication for minor aliments or short-term conditions which can be purchased over the counter, unless in specific circumstances.

“Costs to the NHS are often higher than those over the counter when you factor in fees such as those for dispensing or consultation.

“For example, products for indigestion and heartburn cost the local NHS in East Berkshire £563,000 last year which is equivalent to paying for approximately 17 more specialist nurses. To have purchased the products over the counter, it would cost £2 for a 30 day supply.

She added: “While we do not envisage the change to affect the vast majority, there will be some patients who are currently able to get these medicines on NHS prescription from their GP surgery, who will no longer be able to. Instead, they will need to buy the medicines themselves. Community Pharmacies are an accessible source of excellent advice regarding health and medications.

“We acknowledge and appreciate that such a change can be difficult for some to accept, however it is right that we prioritise our spending in order to provide the best outcomes for patients across East Berkshire. The new guidance provides clear direction to CCGs on where these priorities should lie.

“I would like to reassure patients with long-term or serious illnesses, for which these conditions are side-effects that they will continue to be prescribed such items on the NHS.”

Should anyone have any questions or concerns regarding the change, which are not answered in our FAQs they can speak to their local pharmacist in the first instance.

The CCG will also be hosting two free on-line discussion forums where people will be able to log on from the comfort of their own homes or during the afternoon to speak with CCG staff regarding any questions they may have concerning the change. The first forum will take place between 7pm and 8pm on Wednesday 12 September and the second forum will take place during the afternoon of Wednesday 19 September between 12pm and 1pm. Details of how to access the forums will be published shortly.

Furthermore, residents are also being reminded that free advice on how to stay well and improve the symptoms of minor aliments can be found by visiting www.nhs.uk

Additional information:

Click here to view a full list of products which will no longer be prescribed for minor, short term conditions in East Berkshire. The list also applies to a range of vitamins and minerals, unless from medical tests it is clear the individual does not have sufficient levels.

Note to editor:

To arrange an interview with the CCG’s Head of Medicines, Catriona Khetyar, please email eastberksccg.enquiries@nhs.net