NHS England has launched a public consultation on prescriptions for some ‘over the counter’ products such as dandruff shampoo and drops for tired eyes, freeing-up up to £136 million to expand other treatments for major conditions such as cancer and mental health problems.
Ending routine prescribing for minor, short-term conditions, many of which will cure themselves or
cause no long-term effect on health, would free up NHS funds for frontline care.
The consultation does not affect prescribing of items for longer term or more complex conditions
or where minor illnesses are symptomatic or a side effect of something more serious.
Over-the-counter products currently prescribed include remedies for dandruff, indigestion, mouth
ulcers and travel sickness. The NHS each year spends:
- £4.5m on dandruff shampoos – enough to fund a further 4,700 cataract operations or 1,200
- hip replacements every year.
- £7.5m on indigestion and heartburn – enough to fund nearly 300 community nurses.
- £5.5m on mouth ulcers – enough to fund around 1,500 hip replacements
If patients were to self-care for these three conditions alone, it would save the NHS £17.5 million
allowing funds to be diverted to other areas.
Sources: NHS England