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NHS could save up to £400m a year by curbing prescriptions for low value items

Will changes to prescribing medicines make significant savings in the NHS?

NHS England is to issue guidelines on prescribing items of low clinical value, such as cough and cold treatments, sun cream, antihistamines and indigestion medication, many of which can be bought over the counter for a lower price.

Other medicines were identified as ineffective, unnecessary, inappropriate or even unsafe for prescription on the NHS, but cost the health service £128m a year. NHS Clinical Commissioners worked on compiling the list.

An NHS England review is to develop new guidance for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) informed by the views of patient groups, clinicians, commissioners and providers across the health service.

The principles of best practice clinical prescribing will be followed and consideration given to ensure certain groups of patients are not unfairly affected by the changes.

NHS Clinical Commissioners wants NHS England to set out a national approach to be followed by CCGs across the country.

The review follows growing concerns over the number of low value prescriptions that cost the NHS millions of pounds a year, money that could be diverted to more effective care for patients.

Industry impact

  • With primary and secondary providers operating on tight budgets other services of low clinical value could also be reviewed

Further information

NHS England: NHS England to issue new guidance on low value prescription items