self-care week

It’s coming up to national self-care week – and the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney is reminding people that everyday medicines like paracetamol are no longer ordinarily prescribed by their doctor.

The five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in Norfolk and Waveney have formalised a self-care policy which clearly sets out their approach to ‘over the counter’ medicines. This is available here.

The policy is in line with national guidance issued by NHS England and comes following a national consultation. People are being asked to buy their own everyday medicines from a pharmacy or supermarket for common conditions such as hay fever, short-term diarrhoea or indigestion, cold sores, nappy rash, warts, verrucas and headlice. Clinical exceptions may apply in a small number of cases.

The call comes as part of an ongoing campaign designed to help the NHS make the best use of its resources, and ahead of self-care week. Running from Monday (12 November) until Sunday (18 November), this year’s week carries the theme “choose self-care for life”, and encourages people to do more to look after the health of themselves and their families.

Dr Liam Stevens, a GP and chair of NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “We’re asking people to understand that GPs are following national policy if they ask you to pop to the pharmacist to buy an everyday medicine for yourself. This is because the NHS only has a limited amount of money and we must spend it in a way that achieves the best possible outcomes for all of our patients.

“Doing your bit is simple, so please help your NHS by caring for yourself wherever possible and buying your own medicines so that we can make the best use of our resources for the benefit of everyone in Norfolk and Waveney.”

Figures show the local NHS spent £5.7m last year on remedies which could have been purchased over the counter for a fraction of the price. The total cost of over the counter medicines and the staff costs involved in prescribing them are thought to total £44m, based on figures taken from a national NHS prescribing database.

GPs still have the discretion to prescribe items depending on clinical circumstances, such as when combinations of medication could be complex or for people who take large quantities of medicines to manage a long-term condition which their GP is monitoring.

Anyone who lives in Great Yarmouth and Waveney and has any queries about the policy should contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 01502 719567 or by emailing [email protected]

For people living in the Norwich, North, South and West Norfolk CCGs areas, call 01603 595857 or email [email protected]