The news that the NHS is to remove certain medications from its list of prescribed items (Report, 28 March) may come as a shock to some, but for anyone working in healthcare the step is an obvious one, which may act as a much-needed pressure release valve.
According to government data, each 11.7 minute trip to the GP costs the NHS £45; add to that the cost of prescribing (£3.83 per item) and we are nearing £50. Now compare that with the price of purchasing one of the items listed, directly from a pharmacy, eg Omega 3 capsules (you can get 30 for £6.65). It doesn’t take a genius to see why the NHS is struggling to cope.
The NHS will review 10 items, in the first instance including travel vaccines (these should arguably be self-funded as they fall into the lifestyle category), and erectile dysfunction medication (affordable non-branded options are available from your pharmacy). Access to gluten-free food was once restrictive, but it’s now in all major supermarkets. As a pharmacist, I welcome this move: it saves money, puts the onus back onto the patient to take responsibility for their own health and reiterates that pharmacies should be the first port of call for minor ailments. But we mustn’t forget that, while the price of these items may be affordable for some, for others, paying for their medication is just not an option – one size does not fit all, so exceptions will need to be made.
Frosts Pharmacy, Banbury
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