Practices are reminded to take part in the NHS England consultation on prescribing restrictions for ‘over the counter medicines’.
The deadline for views is next Wednesday, 14 March. Take part via this link.
Mark Stone, who is also a Tamar Valley Health pharmacist partner, urges practices to have their say. He explains: “If the guidance remains unchanged, it will have a huge impact on dispensing practices, dispensing patients and community pharmacies.”
In the consultation, NHS England has identified 33 ‘minor’ conditions that encompass 3,200 medicines and an estimated nine million prescription issues per year. The proposals will require patients suffering from one of these conditions to purchase a medicine privately from a pharmacy, as dispensing GPs will be unable to sell these items themselves. Mr Stone says: “This is likely to cause a significant inequality of access to treatment for a rural patient who will probably not be able to easily access a pharmacy. Some would consider this against the NHS’s founding principles: that the NHS provides a comprehensive service available to all.”
Another issue is the complexity of the guidance. He says: “There will be many difficult conversations with patients explaining why prescribers can no longer provide the medicines (and advice) to meet a patient’s needs if they are suffering from any one of the loosely defined minor conditions.”
Lastly, there is the question of whether, without any investment, community pharmacy has the capacity to provide a ‘minor illness’ type service, which will require nearly 10 million patient consults each year. England is not proposing to introduce per capita payments for pharmacies, as they have in Scotland.