Patients told the true cost of short term treatments

The NHS in Norfolk and Waveney has launched a #Selfcare campaign. It aims to encourage and empower people to treat minor illnesses and injuries themselves with the help of local pharmacies. Selfcare is usually easier and better for people and helps the NHS make better use of resources – sparing time in GP surgeries for more serious conditions.

The GP practices across the five Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs) areas spent half a million pounds March to May this year on medications which could have been purchased directly from a pharmacy, local supermarket or shop. These products include;

  • Antihistamines / Hayfever treatments
  • Muscle and joint creams and gels
  • Moisturisers for dry skin
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhoea amongst others.

The total annual spend is in excess of £2m on medication alone.

Françoise Price, Deputy Director and Chief Pharmacist Anglia said: “Pharmacists are a great source of knowledge in terms of medicines and treatments. Using your pharmacist means you can get help and treatment quicker, easier and at a time that suits you. Many of the medicines for short term and relatively minor ailments can be purchased for considerably less in supermarkets and pharmacies than it costs the NHS meaning it is healthier on the national pocket too. We are strongly encouraging people to take control of their health and want them to feel empowered to manage their conditions. Pharmacists have been described as the healthcare professional on the high street and are there to help and support people self-care.”

We want to move towards a situation where patients know how to manage common ailments and their conditions and know what help is available when it is needed, so that expert health staff are able to support those in the greatest need.”

The #Selfcare campaign is aimed at short term ailments which can be readily self-treated.

“At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressures, prescribing medications for minor ailments on a short term basis which can be bought by the patient themselves elsewhere is not an effective use of funds and appointments,” Dr Linda Hunter said.

“Every time a doctor writes a prescription, the NHS incurs additional charges through dispensing and administrative fees – and if GP time is also included the cost rises even higher.

“Many treatments can be bought from a shop or pharmacy for less than half the price the NHS pays when providing them on prescription. For that reason, we’re asking people to make this choice.”

As part of its campaign, the CCGs have produced informative posters and factsheets for local GP practices, health centres and libraries with support from the selfcare forum There is also much advice on NHS Choices .