NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group is proposing to stop prescribing treatments and medicines for short-term, minor conditions.
It is also proposing to stop prescriptions for medicines where there is insufficient evidence that they improve symptoms or where they aren’t value for money.
The CCG continuously reviews the services it commissions or “buys” to ensure that the local health budget is spent as effectively as possible, whilst minimising waste and promoting self-care.
It currently spends £663,042 a year on prescriptions for items that are available over the counter for self-care and the CCG wants its limited medicines budget to be used for the treatment of more serious conditions.
Many of these medicines are now widely available over the counter (in pharmacies or shops) at a low cost price or cheaper than an NHS prescription. Many are prescribed for conditions that have no clinical need of treatment.
The CCG wants to encourage people to “self-care” — which means that people take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing where they can.
Conditions such as a common cold, sore throat or minor cough are ones that would naturally get better themselves in the majority of patients if untreated, and so products to help soothe these conditions (e.g. cough mixtures, sore throat lozenges) will no longer be prescribed.
Some products that we currently prescribe are clinically ineffective or are not cost effective. These treatments will not have undergone rigorous clinical trials to demonstrate that they work.
Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical lead at Blackburn with Darwen CCG said: “We want to encourage people to self-care where they can and there are lots of resources available to help them. The NHS Choices website is excellent for minor conditions and pharmacies are a good source of advice and support.
“By removing medicines for short-term, minor conditions from routine prescriptions, it will free up GP time to treat patients with more urgent or serious medical problems and it means are dwindling medicines budgets can be used for more serious conditions.
“Nationally there are 57 million GP consultations each year for minor conditions — this costs the NHS approximately £2 billion and takes up to an hour a day on average for every GP and this cannot continue if the NHS is going to become more sustainable.”
NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG is undertaking consultation on the proposal so it can explore the issue in more detail and obtain feedback from patients and the public. The consultation will run from Monday 30 January 2017 until Friday March 31 2017.
All residents of Blackburn with Darwen or those registered with a GP in the borough have the potential to be affected.
Log onto www.blackburnwithdarwenccg.nhs.uk/get-involved/current-consultation/proposals-stop-prescribing-medicines-minor-conditions/ to give your feedback or telephone 01254 282211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for a copy of the survey to be sent to you in the post.