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GPs resist pressures to limit prescribing

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Should there be restrictions on the prescribing of certain medicines?

GPs have called on the Department of Health to review prescribing regulations and entitlements.

At a conference of local medical committees, the GPs asked clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to ‘remove pressure on GPs to reduce or limit clinically appropriate prescribing’.

The requests follow CCGs trying to limit prescribing of certain drugs, including ones available over the counter, to save costs, said the GPs.

NHS England has been consulting on restricting the prescribing of 3,200 medicines that are available without prescription in pharmacies and shops. The list includes paracetamol and anti-fungal and eczema products.

But the GPs said any restrictions should be imposed through a formal blacklisting of specific drugs. This would also avoid local rationing.

Such restrictions could put doctors in a difficult position with their patients, said the GPs, and even risk breaching their contracts.

Stephen Meech, from Kent Local Medical Committee said there was a responsibility to make good use of scarce NHS resources and that there was ‘a reduction in appointments to be had in prescriptions for minor ailments’.

Further information

BMJ: GPs call for end to ‘local rationing’ of prescribing