NHS scraps range of treatments from prescriptions

NHS scraps range of treatments from prescriptions

NHS England has moved to eliminate a number of treatments from being covered by prescription, including homeopathy and supplements widely available in pharmacies and health food stores.

A public consultation was carried out on the development, which collected information from thousands of stakeholders in order to come to a decision.

Now, the NHS said it is to press ahead with providing guidance to GPs and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) on bringing to an end the prescribing of products including fish oils and some herbal remedies. This could save the organisation £141 million a year.

Furthermore, seven of the treatments on the list have now been referred to the Department of Health, not just for removal from eligibility for prescription, but also for "consideration for blacklisting", Chemist + Druggist magazine reports.

Going forward, plans have also been announced to begin a consultation on whether or not certain over-the-counter products such as paracetamol and cough remedies should continue to be available on prescription.

This will ensure the NHS gets the best possible value for its medicine spend, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair Graham Jackson said.

Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson Sandra Gidley said: "We welcome the proposals to restrict prescribing of medicines where there are safer or more effective alternatives, to ensure the NHS can continue to gain best value from the medicines it funds."

According to official figures, the NHS spent more than £70 million providing paracetamol to patients in England last year, despite the medicine being available in supermarkets for as little as 19p.

GPs issued more than 21.7 million prescriptions for the painkillers across the course of 2016.

Meanwhile, NHS expenditure on all medicines in 2015-16 was £16.8 billion, up eight per cent on 2014-15 and 29 per cent since 2010-11.

Hospital use accounted for 45.2 per cent of the total cost, while the cost of medicines rose by eight per cent overall and 13.6 per cent in hospitals.