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Hay fever? Cold? Visit your local pharmacist

User AvatarPosted by Daniel Harper at 21/06/2019 16:09:32

The NHS in east Kent is urging people to use their local pharmacy to buy medication for common minor ailments, like hay fever and colds, as they will no longer be routinely available on prescription.

Following new guidance from NHS England, prescriptions will not generally be given to patients for items which can be bought ‘over the counter’ from a shop or pharmacy.

This means GPs will be asking patients to buy medication for many common minor health issues from a shop or pharmacy. This follows NHS England’s guidance for short-term conditions, covering things like coughs and colds and athlete’s foot.  

The NHS in east Kent spends nearly £5million a year on medication which patients can buy without a prescription.

“We all know that the NHS has limited resources and has to really focus on making the most of what we have,” said Dr Navin Kumta chair for NHS Ashford Clinical Commissioning Group.

“The costs to the NHS for many of the items used to treat minor conditions are often higher than the prices for which they can be purchased over the counter as there are hidden additional costs when items are provided on prescription.

“So a packet of paracetamol, for example, will cost the NHS about £1 on a prescription, as opposed to about 20p for a patient to buy directly.

“There will always be exceptions for when a prescription is justified but by reducing the number of prescriptions for medication that is available at low cost over the counter we can save money and spend it on providing essential, life-saving care.”

The new guidance on over the counter medicines comes after a national consultation by NHS England and an east Kent survey. The east Kent survey had a response from nearly 400 people, with 86 per cent agreeing or strongly agreeing with the proposal.

Dr Kumta added: “For many common conditions, treatment can be provided by a pharmacist and there is no need to book an appointment to see a GP.”

Pharmacists also provide expert, free, confidential advice on health issues such as cold sores, constipation, coughs, cystitis, diarrhoea, headache, mild eczema, sunburn, sprains and strains. You can simply turn up and ask for advice with no prior appointment.

Details of your nearest pharmacy along with opening times can be found on the free NHS app, Health Help Now: www.healthhelpnow.nhs.uk or download Health Help Now from the App Store or Google Play.

In the last year, the NHS in east Kent spent the following on prescribing medicines that might otherwise have been purchased over the counter:

  • Mild dry skin/sunburn: £1,092,586
  • Paracetamol and other pain relief: £843,711
  • Vitamins and minerals: £732,804
  • Dry/sore tired eyes: £553,471
  • Hay fever: £286,694
  • Constipation: £248,604
  • Indigestion/heartburn: £229,277

If you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation, ring NHS 111. If you don’t know what to do or who to contact, use Health Help Now.


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