NHS England states that by ending routine prescribing for minor, short-term conditions, many of which are self-limiting or cause no long-term effect to health, funds could be diverted to other areas, allowing it to expand other treatments for major conditions such as cancer and mental health problems.
Affected OTC products
The proposals include stopping the routine prescribing of products that:
- Have low clinical value and where there is a lack of robust evidence for clinical effectiveness, such as probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
- Treat a condition that is considered to be self-limiting (eg, sore throat or coughs and colds)
- Treat a condition that could be managed by self-care, ie, where the person does not need to seek medical care or could visit a pharmacist (eg, indigestion, mouth ulcers and dry eye)
Overall, the proposals cover deemed suitable for self-care (see table below). NHS England says that the consultation does not affect the prescribing of items for longer term or more complex conditions or where minor illnesses are symptomatic or a side effect of something more serious.
As an example of the potential savings to be made, NHS England states that each year it spends £4.5m on dandruff shampoos, £7.5m on indigestion and heartburn, and £5.5m on mouth ulcers. Implementing self-care for these three conditions alone would result in a total annual saving of £17.5m.
The is open for comments until March 14, 2018.
|Conditions covered by the consultation|