Leeds patients urged to buy some medicines over counter instead of GP prescriptions to save NHS money

Patients in Leeds are being urged to buy medicines for minor ailments over the counter instead of through NHS prescriptions, in a cost-cutting scheme being rolled out by health bosses.

Patients in Leeds are now being urged by the NHS to buy some medicines over the counter. Picture: PA Wire.
Patients in Leeds are now being urged by the NHS to buy some medicines over the counter. Picture: PA Wire.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said doctors in the city may now ask patients to buy their own medicine from supermarkets or pharmacies when it comes to conditions such as dry skin or hay fever, following national guidance issued by NHS England earlier this year.

More than £3.2m was spent by the NHS in Leeds prescribing medicines that could otherwise be bought over the counter, health service data shows.

The figure stood at £569m nationally.

NHS England’s national guidance to GPs applies only to short-lasting conditions that can be self-managed and do not require seeing a doctor.

It will remain at the discretion of GPs as to whether or not the medicines are prescribed.

Dr Gaye Sheerman-Chase, a Leeds GP and principle medical adviser at the CCG, said: “Doctors in Leeds might now ask you to buy your own medicines for common health conditions such as dry skin, dandruff or hay fever.

“By doing this you will be helping your local NHS. While we are implementing this national guidance in Leeds, we are leaving the final decision with your GP as there may be a sound reason to prescribe over-the-counter medicines for you.”

Meanwhile, the CCG is also urging people to consider visiting pharmacies for minor ailments to free up resources for the cash-strapped NHS.

And it has urged people to consider keeping some useful medicines at home in order to be prepared to treat common conditions quickly, and avoid unnecessary appointments.

Medicines the CCG advises include painkillers treatments for constipation and diarrhoea, anti- histamines, sunblock and after-sun as well as basic first aiditems.