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Featured Monday, Jun 3 2019

Reminder that medicines for hay fever and other short term or minor aliments are no longer available on NHS prescription – East Berkshire

With the warmer days upon us, people in East Berkshire are being reminded that products associated with minor conditions and ailments, such as hay fever, are no longer being prescribed locally on the NHS unless in specific circumstances.

The change follows guidance from NHS England last year which recommended that over the counter (OTC) medicines associated with minor, short-term conditions which can either get better by themselves, or can be self-treated, should no longer be made available on NHS prescription.

In line with this guidance, East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) Quality and Constitutional Standards Committee approved the change which came into effect locally on 1 September 2018.

Medicines which are no longer routinely prescribed include treatments for coughs, colds, dandruff, hayfever, mild acne, nappy rash, warts and verrucae, ear wax, head lice and mild dry skin, unless:

  • Patients are 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

Click here for a full list of all products no longer being prescribed.

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.

In East Berkshire, GP practices spent over £3.7 million between April 2017 and March 2018 on prescribing medicines for the following conditions: hay fever; vitamins; muscle and joint pain; dry skin; dry eyes; indigestion; paracetamol; and constipation. In some cases, treatments for these conditions could have been bought from a local pharmacy without a prescription.

Tim Langran, CCG Lead Prescribing Support Pharmacist, said: “With the hay fever season upon us, it’s a timely reminder that certain products associated with short term conditions and minor aliments are no longer routinely prescribed on the NHS.

“I would therefore advise people to ensure they have suitable medication to hand which can easily be purchased at a pharmacy or local supermarket.

“Buying over the counter products can in many cases cost less than it would for the NHS. For example, between April 2017 and March 2018, hay fever medicines cost the local NHS £89,000 whereas it would have cost £1.50 to buy a 30 day supply over the counter. This is the equivalent of four more community nurses a year.”

He added: “Since the change came into effect locally in September 2018, I’m pleased to report that over a period of four months we reduced our spend on such items by £154,000 which can now be used for other treatments or procedures that will bring greater benefit to people locally.”

For more information about the change and to view a list of Frequently Asked Questions, click here.

Note to editor: Photo is from iStock

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