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Help the NHS by buying your own medicine

People entitled to free prescriptions should buy their own medicine over the counter if they can afford it to ease the burden on the NHS, says Jane Bates

People entitled to free prescriptions should buy their own medicine over the counter if they can afford it to ease the burden on the NHS, says Jane Bates


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‘Every little helps,’ as the saying goes. Many patients are only too aware of this when it comes to the NHS, and often come up with money-saving suggestions.

So from my perspective as a patient, and as a recipient of free prescriptions (yes, I am that old), I would like to put forward an idea.

I realised the other day that one of my regular medications is available over the counter. Why did no one tell me? Maybe I should have known, but I have never seen it on sale and you can bet that if I wasn’t aware then neither were most people.

NHS England recently highlighted the enormous cost to the NHS of prescribing over-the-counter medication – well over £500 million a year, says a friend whose job is to manage spending on prescription drugs.

Informed choice

We are told we should be more responsible about buying our own remedies for mild skin conditions or constipation, for example, but if the doctor prescribes it, people can be forgiven for assuming this is the only way it is available.

With so much public support out there, recouping some of this money would be easy to implement – just a wee asterisk on the prescription form indicating over-the-counter items would give us all an informed choice. And it would mean no extra layer of bureaucracy, no IT shenanigans, no extra pressure on the GPs.

Let’s give patients who can afford it the option to do their bit. According to my friend, £500 million isn’t a great deal in the realm of NHS pharmaceuticals. But as we all know, every little helps.


Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire 

 

 

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