Norfolk NHS in bid to save £5m by stopping routine prescriptions for some medications
- Credit: PA
Some £5m could be saved in Norfolk's NHS if doctors stop routinely prescribing some medicines.
That was the claim as a consultation was launched on whether some everyday drugs should be bought over the counter instead of prescribed by clinicians.
Around 20pc of a GP's time and 40pc of their total consultations are used for minor ailments and common conditions at a cost of on average £2bn per year to the NHS.
And now, health authorities are asking whether prescribing items for minor, short-lived ailments such as paracetamol, remedies for indigestion or heartburn, allergy treatments, vitamin supplements and cream for dry skin is cost-effective.
Dr Dustyn Saint, GP at Long Stratton Medical Partnership said: 'At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressures, we have to look at where we can best utilise every pound we spend on behalf of taxpayers.
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'By asking patients to buy medications for minor ailments themselves we will be able to use the money for our core NHS services.'
CCGs in west, north and south Norfolk and Norwich have launched a four-week period of public engagement to gather feedback from local people and stakeholders.
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Françoise Price, a pharmacist and medicines management lead for the CCGs, said: 'There are times when over the counter medicines are required and advice can be sought from other trained health professionals including pharmacists.
'To be clear, GPs will not stop prescribing any medications when they feel this is appropriate; our aim is to encourage patients to access healthcare advice and treatment from an appropriate healthcare professional and to encourage patients to buy over the counter medicines that can be used to treat minor ailments rather than get them on prescription, and maintain a stock at home to take when they need it.
'Additionally, we're not asking people to go without medication they need – those who need regular medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen because of long term medical conditions will still be able to get them on an NHS prescription.'
The consultation will run to November 24, with information relating to the engagement found on each of the CCG websites.