Changes to prescribing important for future of NHS
Doctor Sunil Hindocha, chief clinical officer, NHS Lincolnshire West Clinical Commissioning Group, talks about changes that have been made to prescribing in the county…
It will not be a surprise when I say the NHS is under huge pressure – not just here in Lincolnshire but across the country.
These remain challenging times. However every day I, in my role as GP at Portland Medical Practice in Lincoln and as chief clinical officer at the CCG, witness so many NHS staff working tirelessly in ensuring patients have good quality, locally led healthcare.
We are scrutinising the way we do things and identifying whether or not there are better ways of working. This is for the benefit of the patient and system itself.
There are two areas in primary care where we have made important changes.
The first is with the prescribing of over the counter medicines.
We consulted with our patients across Lincolnshire in 2016 and as a result of that decided to restrict the prescribing of medicines which are available to buy over the counter for minor ailments and short-term, self-limiting conditions.
This includes medicines such as paracetamol, antacids and antihistamines. These are items you can purchase in a pharmacy or shop. In some cases it costs the NHS four times the amount to prescribe the above, than it does for one patient to buy them over the counter.
We also took the decision to limit the prescribing of certain gluten-free foods, baby milks and oral nutrition supplements.
The second important change we made was with how patients order repeat prescriptions. Those who choose to use a pharmacy to order repeat prescriptions on their behalf now instead have to order repeat prescriptions through their GP practice.
Designated carers, relatives or friends are still able to order on a patient’s behalf through GP practices.
The idea of this is to make prescribing safer for the patient and more cost efficient for the NHS. The change addresses a serious safety concern in that, under the old system, some patients found that they began to build up a stock of unused medicine, which had to be stored safely and used within date.
Where pharmacies ordered and dispenses medication on behalf of a patient, the patient did not always have the ability to notify their GP practice when medicines were no longer required.
If you need to ask your GP practice for a repeat prescription you can do this in a number of ways.
You can do this at the practice, online, via letter or at some practices over the phone.
These changes give the patient more control. It is vital NHS money is used as efficiently as possible in these difficult times. We need to prioritise our sickest patients.
We need to care for our NHS, so the NHS can care for us.