The medicines management consultation launched by the four Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) has just under one week until it closes and the CCGs are urging anyone who would like to share their views to do so by 18 November.
Launched on 4 October, the consultation is asking for your views on the CCGs’ proposals to change what they prescribe, including restricting the prescribing of over the counter/minor ailment medicines used for short-term, self-limiting conditions.
“Over the counter medicines are those that can be bought from your local pharmacy or supermarket, including medicines like painkillers and antihistamines,” comments Dr Kevin Hill, GP and Chair, South Lincolnshire CCG. “In addition to over the counter medicines, we are also consulting with the public about our proposals to restrict the prescription of gluten-free products, baby milk (including specialist infant formula) and nutritional supplements (unless in exceptional circumstances)”.
It is important to emphasise that these medicines and products will still be available for conditions where clinical need can only be met by prescription.
“Currently the four Lincolnshire CCGs are spending £13.5million per year on medicines available to buy over the counter,” adds Dr Hill. “This includes medicines like paracetamol that can be bought very cheaply in a supermarket – usually around 25 pence - but cost the NHS considerably more. In addition, as CCGs, every year we spend around £472,000 on gluten-free products, £740,000 on baby milks and specialist infant formula, and £2.9million on prescribed nutritional supplements.”
The focus of the consultation is the money the CCGs spend on items that are readily available. People are living longer and consequently more of us are requiring an increased level of support from the NHS. However, there is only a finite amount of money available and something has to be done now to help CCGs remain in a position whereby they can continue to provide the safest and highest quality healthcare for patients across Lincolnshire.
“What we are trying to do is balance the books and not live beyond our means. There are a lot of things that people can do to help us in this, including not relying on an NHS prescription if they are able to buy their own over the counter type medicines. Whilst our proposal also includes restricting the prescribing of gluten-free products, baby milk (including specialist infant formula) and nutritional supplements, we want to be clear that people who need to be prescribed medicines for conditions where the clinical need can only be met by prescription will continue to receive them as usual,” explains Dr Hill.
The consultation will close on 18 November 2016 and a review of the findings will be completed, which will inform whether the proposed changes are implemented or not; any changes would come into effect from 1 December 2016.