Prescription restrictions

Gary James
Gary James

Health bosses in Lincolnshire are set to begin restricting prescription items as part of a bid to cut costs and encourage people to look after themselves better.

At a meeting of the governing body on Thursday, Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group approved plans to restrict prescribing over-the-counter/minor ailment medicines for ‘short term self-limiting conditions’.

It also agreed to restrict prescription of bread, flour and bread mixes ‘only to within Coeliac UK recommended quantities’, as well as baby milk (including specialist infant formula) and oral nutritional supplements in line with national guidance.

Accountable officer for the CCG Gary James told the body: “At times like this, we have to think very carefully how we get the very best value for everything in the NHS.”

The report before the committee stated the four CCGs in Lincolnshire spent about £13.5 million per year on over-the-counter medicines.

Last year, they spent £472,000 on gluten-free food – equivalent to 30 treatments for breast cancer.

In addition, £2.9 million is spent annually on nutritional supplements, while £740,000 goes on specialist infant formula.

Public consultations on the proposals received 1,448 survey responses and reached 22,500 people via social media. Of the survey responses, 85 per cent were in agreement with the proposal to restrict over-the-counter medicines, while 53 per cent agreed with the restrictions on gluten-free products.

Sixty-four per cent agreed to restricting specialist baby milk and infant formulae and 72 per cent agreed to restrict nutritional supplements.

Concerns were raised about the impact on deprived or low income families, the difficulty regarding taking people off repeat prescriptions and the 
impact on patients in care homes.

There were also calls for patients to get more support if they were to lose prescriptions – including, for example, widely available gluten free recipes, or support sessions around the county.

Some of the restrictionsbegan on Monday and the CCG will now look into how best to implement all restrictions.

Health services and patients will be guided through the implementation, and advice and information will be issued to surgeries – including posters and leaflets.

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