Isle of Wight residents are being encouraged to buy medication for minor health concerns directly from a local pharmacy or supermarket rather than seek a prescription first.
The call follows guidance issued by NHS England last year asking clinicians across England not to prescribe some drugs, commonly referred to as ‘over the counter medicines’, for the treatment of a range of minor ailments.
Stopping prescriptions for minor ailments
Alison Smith, Managing Director at the Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the national guidance is now being implemented locally.
“This is about stopping prescriptions for ailments such as a sore throat, dandruff, athlete’s foot, indigestion or fungal infections, for which anyone can buy medication from any supermarket or pharmacy near you.
“By going to your pharmacy for health advice, you will get much quicker treatment for your illness and you will also free up appointments for other people with more serious illnesses to be seen by a GP.
“Of course, we can’t run away from talking about the true cost of prescriptions for minor injuries. By stopping or discouraging prescriptions for over the counter medicines, over £500,000 each year for the Island’s health economy will be realised.”
Savings used for new interventions
The savings will go some way towards funding new interventions, such as continuous glucose monitors or new medicines, which will potentially have a significant impact on the quality of life for Island residents.
Caroline Allen, Deputy Head of Medicines Optimisation at the CCG, said,
“The guidance will not affect prescribing of over the counter items for longer term or more complex conditions or where minor illnesses are symptomatic or a side effect of something more serious.
“Your GP will continue to look at individual cases and so there may be times when they will continue to prescribe, or stop, over-the-counter medicines where they feel appropriate to do so.”
Pharmacy First scheme
People who are already eligible for free prescriptions will continue to receive their medications through the Island’s “Pharmacy First” minor ailments scheme. The scheme, run by the CCG, encourages people to visit a community pharmacist for the management of minor ailments where they can be seen without an appointment.
Francisco Alvarez, Sandown Practice’s pharmacist, said:
“Pharmacists can also help you manage your medicines and give you advice on any questions you may have about your existing medication as well as new ones.
“You can also talk to us about other health matters, for example, developing a healthier lifestyle, measuring your blood pressure or we can give you advice about stopping smoking.”
Talk to your local pharmacist
Francisco, who is also the CCG’s Community Pharmacy List, added that keeping a few useful medicines at home means you can treat common conditions without needing to see a healthcare professional.
“Go and talk to your local pharmacist about medicines to buy to keep at home, where and how to safely store and use them.
“These could include analgesics (painkillers) to help with pain or discomfort; indigestion medicines; treatments for allergies like hay fever and so on.”
News shared by Isle of Wight CCG, in their own words. Ed