Travel vaccinations, certain pain killers and gluten-free foods may no longer be available on NHS prescription
NHS England aims to reduce waste from its £120bn annual budget by imposing tighter restrictions and bans on the prescription of “unnecessary” items by GPs.
From April 2017, the health body will begin reviewing an initial list of 10 items deemed to be “ineffective, unnecessary [and] inappropriate for prescription on the NHS”.
These include thyroid treatments, gluten-free foods, certain painkillers and travel vaccines, which are said to cost the NHS approximately £128m a year. Following the review, additional items such as cough remedies, suncream and indigestion medicines are likely to be added to the list, which could increase the saving to £400m a year.
"Cutting unnecessary expenditure of course makes sense but this should not be a green light to wider restrictions on medicines available on prescription. Patient well-being and safety has to be the number one priority.”
It is hoped that removing over-the-counter treatments from the list of prescribed items could see more budget allocated towards stretched NHS services, developing innovative new medicines and improving staff levels.
The review follows a recent press investigation, which claimed proposed health reforms could lead to the closure of up to 19 hospitals across the UK and a loss of 2,000 community hospital beds, in a bid to fill a £22bn NHS funding ‘black hole’.
Clair Wilson, a senior clinical negligence solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, gave a cautious welcome to the review but warned that patient welfare should not be jeopardised and said the money saved must go to frontline services.
“We hope this review will result in more funding being allocated towards the treatment and rehabilitation of patients with more serious injuries and illnesses,” she said.
"Cutting unnecessary expenditure of course makes sense but this should not be a green light to wider restrictions on medicines available on prescription. Patient well-being and safety has to be the number one priority.
“Where sensible savings can be made, there needs to be evidence that the money has gone straight back into frontline services, so the public can see that the sacrifice has been worth it."
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