Posted: Wed 18th Mar 2015

Health board urges patients not to get doctor’s prescriptions for over the counter treatments.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Mar 18th, 2015

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which runs the NHS in North Wales, is urging patients to not to get prescriptions from their GP’s for drugs that can be purchased over the counter.

The Health Board says costs for issuing drugs such as simple painkillers, laxatives, vitamins, hay fever treatments and head lice treatments, has risen this year and many of the products can be purchased more cheaply by patients than it would cost the NHS.

The current economic climate is putting a sharp focus on public spending, with the NHS in Wales under great pressure to take action to address gaps in funding.

As a consequence the health board say Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board will have to take tough decisions to transform services, they say.

Dr Berwyn Owen, Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines Management said:

“Over the counter medicines are the type of medication you can buy at your local pharmacy, supermarket or shop without a doctor’s prescription. Many of these products can be purchased at a minimum cost and often much more cheaply than it would cost the NHS.

“We currently spend four million pounds every year on over the counter medicines and this year we are experiencing a significant growth in their cost. A 2% reduction would reduce our costs by an estimated £80,000, which at a time when the NHS is under constant pressure is a significant amount.

“We can make savings through encouraging patients to ‘self care’ and to purchase some of the simple and inexpensive products over the counter”

“Community Pharmacists are highly trained health care professionals and are in an ideal position to assist with ‘self care’ and to advise on the most appropriate product for each individual patient.

“As part of the Welsh Government’s Choose Well Campaign, we are encouraging patients to choose their local pharmacy for advice on minor ailments / illnesses and over the counter medicines. This will not only free up your GP’s time, but will also reduce waste through the prescribing of additional quantities for use on a future basis or ‘just in case’.”

Geoff Ryall-Harvey, Chief Officer of the North Wales Community Health Council (CHC) said:

“Our members welcome this drive by Health Boards, both locally and nationally, and see it as a positive way forward in reducing the huge amount of waste that comes from repeat prescriptions and stockpiling of medications by patients. However, it is also reassuring that in some situations the doctor can still prescribe these medicines on the NHS.”

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