Cash saving plan to scrap GP medicines in Morecambe Bay

Better Care Together NHS review open day in Morecambe.  Pictured is Dr Alex Gaw.
Better Care Together NHS review open day in Morecambe. Pictured is Dr Alex Gaw.

Plans to scrap prescription medicines to save more than £650,000 a year have been unveiled by Morecambe Bay’s health trust.

NHS Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is currently reviewing medications that local GPs prescribe to make sure they are spending their budget as effectively as possible.

The proposals also include scrapping prescriptions for gluten free products, which cost the CCG £200,000 a year.

Some of the prescriptions under review include painkillers (which cost £660,000 a year), antihistamines (£180,000), treatment for upset stomachs (£132,000), and skin rashes (£45,000), and dandruff/cradle cap (£29,000).

Dr Alex Gaw, clinical chair for NHS Morecambe Bay CCG, said that organisation currently spends around £1.3m per year on GP prescriptions, and that half of this is potentially unnecessary cost.

There are several propositions currently being discussed, the first being to stop NHS prescriptions for medicines and treatments used for short term or minor conditions that are available in pharmacies, supermarkets and other retail stores.

The CCG said it wishes to encourage and support people to look after themselves through ‘selfcare’ and self-management when they can and wherever possible.

This means that people take more responsibility for their own health and well-being where they can.

Dr Gaw said: “We currently spend approximately £325,000 each quarter (every three months) on GP prescriptions for self-care items, which amounts to about £1,300,000 annually.

“Many of these prescriptions are necessary for acute and urgent conditions and your GP will continue to prescribe them. However, we estimate that over half of these prescriptions are potentially an unnecessary cost to the NHS locally.”

The CCG is also reviewing its policy on gluten free food and is proposing to stop prescribing it. In 2016/17, Morecambe Bay CCG spent £200,000 on gluten free products, which could have been invested in other patient services. NHS prescriptions for gluten free foods to patients who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease started more than 40 years ago when gluten-free foods were not as readily available in supermarkets. The CCG wants to know your views on these proposals so it can explore the issues in more detail.

The consultation will run until November 14.

All residents of the Morecambe Bay area or those registered with a GP surgery within Morecambe Bay have the potential to be affected.

The CCG is encouraging patients to complete an online survey to give their views about these proposals.

The surveys are available online at: http://tinyurl.com/MBCCG-Prescription or via the website www.morecambebayccg.nhs.uk.