NHS England is to review low value prescription items from April 2017 and introduce new guidance for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to support the deprescribing of, initially, 10 items described as “ineffective, unnecessary, inappropriate for prescription on the NHS, or indeed unsafe”.
The 10 items will be drawn from categories including: coughs and colds, antihistamines, indigestion and heartburn medication and suncream. The DDA will use the consultation to lobby for a change in GMS contract regulations to allow GPs to sell items to their patients, without a prescription. “This should equalise access for urban and rural patients,” DDA CEO Matthew Isom has said.
Read the DDA’s letter to MPs.
The Department of Health believes that the 10 items in the initial review together cost the NHS £128m per year. Potentially, total savings of up to £400m per year are possible, the DH has said, following a wider review of NHS formularies, and it has asked NHS England to set out a national approach that would, following consultation, be adopted by individual CCGs across England.
Items that are readily available ‘over the counter’ and at a far lower cost than the prescription equivalent have been specifically singled out for review. NHS England says “careful consideration will be given to ensure that particular groups of people are not disproportionately affected, and that principles of best practice clinical prescribing are followed”.
The Department of Health has also announced a consultation on the availability of gluten free foods on prescription in primary care. This closes on June 22.
In in its response the RCGP has said: “Imposing blanket policies on GPs, that don’t take into account demographic differences across the country, or allowing flexibility for a patient’s individual circumstances, risks alienating the most vulnerable in society – and we will be seeking assurances from NHS England that this won’t be the case.”