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NHS tries to cut prescriptions

NHS ENGLAND has embarked on a bizarre consultation document with the grand title of Conditions for which over the counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: A consultation on guidance for CCGs.

Translated into real English, this means: We want to see if we can get away with making you pay for some of your medication yourself. And Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) would like you to take part in the consultation and send them a copy of what you said.

NHS England reckons it has found 35 conditions which are “minor” or will clear up on their own – and it wants doctors to stop prescribing treatments which are not very effective. It believes that the NHS spent £57 million last year on prescriptions for items which “can” be bought over the counter – in pharmacies or supermarkets. In other words, if your GP believes you need these items, he or she should tell you to go buy it yourself.

Tower Hamlets CCG is echoing the rhetoric It claims that there are 40 pharmacies in Tower Hamlets which act as healthcare walk in centres – and it implies that if only ill people went to their pharmacist rather than their doctor, things would be easier for the NHS.

Tower Hamlets CCG claims that, “Using pharmacies to treat minor illness can improve access to services for patients; free up more capacity in general practice; avoid unnecessary visits to A&E departments; and also support the appropriate management of people using the NHS 111 service.”

Many pharmacies in Tower Hamlets house excellent professionals who can help customers with a range of medical symptoms and conditions. But the CCG’s attitude is not acceptable. It is not up to patients to judge whether there illness is minor. Doctors are there for everyone – not only those people who have self-diagnosed themselves as having a serious condition.

Once NHS England has finished its consultation, it will give instructions to all GPs about what they are and are not allowed to prescribe. Why, then, Tower Hamlets CCG wants to see your responses now, before the national consultation has ended, is unclear.

Dr Sam Everington, who chairs Tower Hamlets CCG, says, “We are really keen that local people have their say.” He added: “It is so important we know what local people think about these proposals because this will enable us to make an informed local decision if the recommendation is to stop prescribing for these conditions in primary care.

“This consultation provides an opportunity to comment as well as influence the future approach to these over the counter medicines. It will also highlight how these proposals could potentially impact on patients and community groups if these conditions are no longer prescribed for.

“National guidance on prescribing over the counter items for these conditions could save the NHS money and put an end to regional variations in what is available on prescription. In many cases, self-care can be more effective and convenient than visiting the GP and can free up valuable GP time.”

Why is it that the NHS has to fund so many bureaucrats to tinker around with restricting GP choice and trying to get patients to pay for parts of their treatment? This scrutiny doesn’t happen in other areas of government. When was the last time they gave a gun to a soldier and told him/her that 10% of army issue bullets don’t kill anyone, so they’ll give him/her 90% of the previous ammunition ration and s/he should try to source the non-essential extra 10% out of their own pockets?

What a strange way to run a health service!

Consultation events:
Webinar. 21st February, 1-2.30pm.
Information here: Webinar
Meeting. 5th March, 2-4pm, The Montague on the Gardens, Red Carnation Hotels, 15 Montague Street, London, WC1B 5BJ.
Information here: Meeting
To complete the NHS England consultation (deadline 14th March), go to:

•Read more about it:
Labour slates Tory NHS fail
NHS rations care to cope with crisis


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