Plans to restrict prescribing of treatments and medicines for short-term, minor conditions have been approved across Blackburn with Darwen.
In January, NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) began a nine-week engagement exercise with local patients and members of the public, on proposals to stop prescribing treatments and medicines for short-term, minor conditions or where there is insufficient evidence that they improve symptoms or where they aren’t value for money.
Following overwhelming support for these proposals the CCG has agreed to continue with plans to ensure that only treatments that are clinically effective and provide a clear health benefit to patients are prescribed on NHS prescriptions.
Currently the CCG spends over £663,000 a year on prescriptions for medicines which are now widely available over the counter (in pharmacies or shops) at a low cost price or cheaper than an NHS prescription. These include items such as paracetamol, antihistamines, moisturisers and ear wax removers. Many items 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. For instance pharmacies are a good source of advice and support and can release GP time to treat people with more serious conditions.
Dr Preeti Shukla, Clinical lead at Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “It is important that everyone using NHS service appreciates the pressures we face through growing demand and cost and takes responsibility for using the NHS most effectively so we can help secure high quality local health services. The outcome of our engagement was extremely positive and we are most confident that we have made the right decision and have the support of our local patients and members of the public.
“It is important to note that these restrictions are only in place for patients with short-term and minor medical ailments. If patients have previously received one of these treatments on prescription and plan to buy it themselves in the future so it can continue to be used, please let your GP practice know so they can make a note of this in your record. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you which products to buy.”
Some of the feedback received from the public about the proposals includes comments such as:
- “Fully support the proposals. People need to stop clogging up A&E and GP surgeries and take responsibility for care that is not urgent.”
- “People need to take responsibility for minor ailments and not waste doctors’ appointments for something they can get from the chemist.”
- “All these are available over the counter and should NOT be on prescription as are a drain on the NHS resources.”
The plans come into effect from Monday 3 July.
The report on the engagement process can be viewed on Blackburn with Darwen CCG website.
Information about self-treating a range of common, minor ailments is available on line on the NHS Choices website – www.nhs.uk