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Changes to Prescribing Medicines in Dudley

Dudley CCG is making some changes to the prescribing of medicines that can be bought over the counter for common, short term illnesses or that have no clear health benefit for patients.

In Dudley we spend around £2 million per year on widely available, over the counter medicines, and GPs spend an average of £5,000 every single day seeing patients who have minor ailments that could be treated with remedies bought from a pharmacy, supermarket or shop.

Members of the public were asked to share their views on these changes during our consultation (1st February 2017 to 26th April 2017).  During this time views were heard at our public meeting and over 300 people responded to a survey about the changes. The majority were in favour of stopping prescribing these products.

What this means is that from 1st August 2017 GP prescriptions for certain types of medicines or treatments that are readily available ‘over the counter’ in pharmacies or on the shelves in shops and supermarkets will stop.

The types of medicines and treatments that fall into this category are known as Self Care medicines, these include:

  • Treatments for minor ailments, including medicines like paracetamol, ibuprofen, head lice lotion and indigestion tablets.
  • Treatments where there is little evidence that they have a real clinical benefit, including cough syrups, nasal congestion sprays, sore throat products and vitamin supplements.

Where a treatment is needed for a long-term chronic condition or there are legal restrictions on the amount of medicine that can be purchased over the counter from community pharmacies, then the patient’s GP will still be able to prescribe.

Laura Broster, Director of Communications & Public Insight for Dudley CCG said, “I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to complete our survey.  We value all of the comments and feedback received, these have been essential in helping us to develop a new prescribing policy for people in Dudley.”

Dr David Hegarty MBE, GP and Chair of Dudley CCG said, “In Dudley there is an increasing demand for prescriptions for medication that can be bought over the counter at relatively low cost, often for self-limiting or minor conditions.

The decision to stop prescribing such medicines is welcomed by local GPs as self-care for such ailments has always been encouraged.

These changes will benefit patients by making it more convenient to get treatment for minor ailments from a local pharmacy or shop, and will also free up valuable GP time. Together this will save the local NHS around £2m per year, which could be used to protect other treatments.”

In addition the CCG are developing an enhanced Minor Ailments Scheme which will enable people living in Dudley, who are registered with a Dudley GP to access community pharmacy services to support them to manage minor ailments. The revised Minor Ailments Scheme will become available from March 2018.

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