Patients in West Leicestershire are being advised to see their pharmacist in the first instance for advice on minor conditions such as indigestion, travel sickness or diarrhoea which can be treated quickly by an over the counter medicine.
The advice comes after NHS West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the organisation that buys health services locally, reviewed how people access over the counter medicines for the short term treatment of minor conditions.
Dr Chris Barlow, GP and Clinical Lead for Prescribing said: “The sorts of conditions we reviewed were headaches, indigestion, head lice, travel sick, hay fever, diarrhoea and insect bites and stings. We also reviewed Vitamin D supplements and specialised infant formula which can be prescribed for babies with reflux or lactose intolerance.
“This review really gave us an understanding of how people would be affected if they had to buy these types of medicines that are easily bought over the counter at a community pharmacy. It also revealed that majority of people do already buy their own medicines to treat minor conditions and most of the people we heard from are willing or very willing to buy medicines for minor ailments.
“There were some people who told us they were concerned particularly if they had a long term condition and they wanted to understand a little more about the effect of mixing medicines. Other people wanted to know more about the quality and strength of over the counter medicines. Some people were concerned about the affordability of some medicines. We also learnt that there are some myths and confusion out there which is why we will be providing more information to help people to self-care.
“People also told us was that their local pharmacist is their first point of contact to support them with a range of ailments and they prefer to talk to them about minor conditions savings GP appointment time for more urgent problems.”
The CCG thinks that the NHS belongs to everybody and resources need to be used wisely and the results of the review showed that most patients feel the same way. Therefore, GPs are being asked to no longer prescribe medicines on prescription for the short term treatment of minor ailments, low dose vitamin D supplements for prevention of deficiency and some specialised infant formulas. Patients will be asked to purchase them over the counter instead. The CCG is also asking patients not to request these items on their prescription.
Dr Barlow continued: “By asking people to self-care in this way, and we know that most people already do, it is a fairer way of utilising resources wisely as most of these items can be purchased in pharmacies and supermarkets at much lower than it costs the NHS to provide on a prescription. It will also free up valuable GP and nurse time, which can be used to deal with more complex or serious health needs.
“Community Pharmacists are best placed to help and advise you regarding suitable treatments for common ailments. The pharmacist will check the medicine is appropriate for you and your health problem. They will ask questions to ensure there is no reason why you should not use the medicine.
“However, if people are still worried after speaking to the pharmacist, or their symptoms get worse or persist they can of course still make an appointment to see their GP. “
The CCG has put together arrange of information to support them which is available by visiting www.westleicestershireccg.nhs.uk or more information is available at: www.nhs.uk and searching Medicines Information.
If people want advice on a range of things including money, debt or benefits they should contact First Contact on 0116 305 4286 or visit: www.firstcontactplus.org.uk