Funding changes mean GPs will no longer be allowed to prescribe medications to treat some minor ailments.
NHS England has published guidance to free up to almost £100 million for frontline care each year by curbing prescriptions for ‘over the counter’ medicines. The news comes after official figures show the NHS spends £22.8 million per year on constipation, £3 million on athletes foot and £2.8 million on diarrhoea.
Patients will, however, still be allowed to see and be assessed by a GP but they won’t be handed a prescription and instead signposted to where to buy medicated products.
People who receive free prescriptions, such as those on a low-income or pregnant, will not automatically be exempt from the new rules. However, changes will not affect vulnerable patients or those with long-term or complex conditions or where the symptom could be associated with something more serious.
The controversial changes will come into force at the end of May.
GPs will no longer be allowed to treat.
- Acute sore throats.
- Cold sores.
- Coughs and colds.
- Nasal congestion.
- Cradle cap (seborrhoeic dermatitis).
- Infant colic.
- Mild cystitis.
- Mild irritant dermatitis.
- Infrequent diarrhoea or constipation.
- Dry or sore eyes.
- Excessive sweating (Hyperhidrosis).
- Head lice.
- Infrequent migraines.
- Insect bites and stings.
- Mild acne and/or dry skin.
- Sunburn or the need for sun protection.
- Mild to moderate hay fever.
- Seasonal rhinitis.
- Minor burns and scalds.
- Mild pain, discomfort and/fever (e.g. aches and sprains, headache, period pain, back pain).
- Mouth ulcers.
- Nappy rash.
- Oral thrush.
- Prevention of dental caries.
- Athletes foot
- Ringworm or threadworm.
- Travel sickness
- Warts or verrucas.
Think like a taxpayer. Act like a taxpayer.
Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “Across the NHS our aim is to: ‘Think like a patient, act like a taxpayer’. The NHS is probably the most efficient health service in the world, but we’re determined to keep pushing further. Every pound we save from cutting waste is another pound we can then invest in better A&E care, new cancer treatments and much better mental health services.”
John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s great news that NHS England will save a vast amount of taxpayers’ money by curbing prescriptions for basic items that are much cheaper to buy in the supermarket than they are to prescribe. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for items like anti dandruff shampoo or athlete’s foot powder, so cutting out wasteful spending like this will mean that precious resources can be focused on frontline services. Patients too must remember that these items are not “free” – the money comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, so NHS England should be applauded for this move.”