Following a consultation with members of the public across Lincolnshire, the four Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups have approved the restricting of prescribing of over the counter medicines used for short-term, self-limiting conditions. This will start to take effect from Monday 12th December 2016.
In addition, the four CCGs – Lincolnshire East, Lincolnshire West, South West Lincolnshire and South Lincolnshire – have also approved the following restrictions/limitations, all of which were part of the medicines management consultation, also with effect from Monday 12th December 2016:
- To restrict the prescription of gluten-free foods - to limit prescribing to bread, flour and bread mixes only within Coeliac UK recommended quantities
- To restrict the prescribing of baby milk including specialist infant formula
- To restrict the prescribing of oral nutritional supplements in line with ACBS guidance
Over the counter type products like paracetamol and antihistamines will no longer be prescribed for short-term, self-limiting conditions – in these instances patients will be encouraged to buy their own from their local chemist or supermarket. Equally, only gluten-free bread, flour and bread mixes will be available on prescription, non-staple gluten-free foods, such as sweet biscuits, cake and cake mixes will not be prescribed.
The prescribing of baby milk, including specialist infant formula, will be restricted if they can be purchased by the patient themselves. However, baby milks that are only available on prescription for premature babies or those with long-term conditions will still be prescribed. Oral nutritional supplements will also no longer be prescribed unless for those with serious, long term conditions and patients will be encouraged to follow the ‘food first’ approach to ensure they get all their nutritional requirements from liquidized and fortified foods.
“Having consulted with people across the county, including individuals and organisations alike, and having received over 1,400 responses to our survey, it is pleasing that we have the support of our patients to make these changes,” explains Dr Kevin Hill, GP and Chair, South Lincolnshire CCG. “Essentially, we are saying that people should not expect their GP to prescribe these medicines and products going forwards, unless there is a clinical need to do so.
“Our focus throughout has been on the money we as CCGs spend on items that are readily available over the counter,” adds Dr Hill. “We have a finite amount of money available and a duty to spend this in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for all of our patients. So, when it is possible to buy a box of paracetamol for 20 pence from a supermarket, we think that’s a better option for most people than expecting their GP to prescribe the same thing at a significantly increased cost.
“However, we fully appreciate that there will be instances where a patient’s clinical needs mean that these items will still need to be available on prescription. Medication that is only available on prescription and not available to buy elsewhere will of course continue to be prescribed.”
At the moment the four CCGs spend around £16million per year on medicines available over the counter, gluten-free foods, baby milks and oral nutritional supplements.
“We hope that, with the support of our patients, we will be able to reduce this spend significantly over time. This is the beginning of a process and whilst we will begin straightaway, it will take time to work through. We greatly appreciate the backing of our patients and it is reassuring to know that there is support for us as we try to protect our NHS,” concludes Dr Hill.