NHS Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has recommended that GPs stop routinely prescribing a number of lower value products and branded medicines.
The NHS in Calderdale could save around £300,000 each year by stopping prescribing these self-care treatments, which are widely available to buy, without a prescription, from pharmacies and supermarkets.
- Baby milks
- Infant colic products
- Vitamin supplements
- Emollients (moisturisers) for minor dry skin conditions
- Cosmetic products, including eflornithine for facial hair
- Antifungal nail paints
- Sunscreen products
Around £100,000 is spent every year on prescribing branded medicines without a medical reason, where a non-branded (generic) medicine containing the same active ingredient would be as effective.
Some of these products can still be prescribed in certain circumstances: emollients can still be prescribed for patients with more serious skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis, while baby milks will continue to be available for infants with diagnosed Cows’ Milk Protein Allergy and specialist diets. Families with a low income can get vouchers for baby milks and also access vitamins for young children and pregnant women free of charge. More information can be found at visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk
Calderdale CCG has a budget of £312 million to buy health and care services such as emergency care, hospital care, community care, GP and mental health services.
Increasing demand for NHS services, as well as the effects of national austerity measures, means that the organisation must make difficult, but clinically-led, decisions to ensure that the money available can meet the health needs of people in Calderdale.
Dr Nigel Taylor, local GP and member of NHS Calderdale CCG’s Governing Body said: “During our public engagement on prescribing last year, the public told us that the NHS should stop prescribing medications and treatments which are readily available for self-care conditions.
“Whilst we appreciate that this decision will have an impact on some people, the CCG considers these to be self-care products that are widely available to purchase in pharmacies, supermarkets and shops.
“Decisions like this are not made lightly and we appreciate that some may find them hard to accept, but the money saved can be spent on treatments which have a more positive impact on people’s health.”
The changes will come into effect during March 2018. The CCG will continue to work with GPs, community pharmacies, third sector organisations and other stakeholders to communicate the changes to patients, address any concerns raised during the consultation process, and support those who may be affected.
- While a number of self-care products are no-longer available on prescription, there are exceptions in which these treatments can be prescribed:
- Baby milks and formula for infants diagnosed with cows’ milk protein allergy, specialist metabolic disorders, for premature and other infants on the recommendation of a paediatric dietician/paediatrician where feeds are not readily available.
- Vitamins for a diagnosed vitamin deficiencies and following weight loss surgery.
- Emollients for patients with diagnosed psoriasis or eczema, foot care in diabetic patients, lymphoedema and to prevent skin ulceration in fragile patients.
- Sunscreen for patients diagnosed with abnormal reactions to sunlight.
- Branded medicines may still be prescribed where there is a clinical reason. For example some medicines for epilepsy need to be prescribed by brand. The CCG will also prescribe by brand where this is cost effective or recommended by local and national guidelines.