Changes in the prescribing of paracetamol

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In the summer of 2016 we invited people to talk to us about possible changes to the way we prescribe paracetamol products in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland

Over 740 people participated in a survey to tell us what mattered most to them enabling us to really understand the impact of any change introduced.  We would like to thank everyone who got involved as it really has helped us to make our prescribing decisions.  The survey report is available to view.

Why are we making changes to paracetamol prescribing?

Paracetamol is available to buy cheaply and easily over the counter at supermarkets, pharmacies and many other retailers. In 2015/16 the NHS spent £1.5 million on prescribing paracetamol for patients in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

With this in mind, we have looked at how we prescribe paracetamol so that we can ensure we continue to use our resources fairly. 

What is changing?

We carefully considered all the responses, and decided that patients who use large quantities of paracetamol (for example management of chronic pain conditions), will continue to receive paracetamol on prescription. However, patients should purchase paracetamol for use in the short term for what we call “self-limiting illnesses”, which are illnesses which get better on their own, such as sore throats or teething pains for babies.

The majority of people said in the survey that they would be affected either ‘not at all’ or ‘only a little’ by this change to paracetamol prescribing.

So, this won’t affect you if you are taking paracetamol regularly as part of a chronic pain management plan or paracetamol with codeine (co-codamol) only available on prescription. In this case your GP will continue to prescribe these in the quantities appropriate for you.

Your questions answered

We have put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers which explain more about the feedback we had from patients, as well as the changes.  The information also dispels some of the myths around the quality of paracetamol products on prescription compared to those available over the counter which the survey highlighted to us.

If you require specific advice or are concerned about the effect that these changes will have on you, please talk to your GP or practice nurse.

A fair way of using NHS resources

We think that the changes we have implemented are a much fairer way of utilising resources and believe that the results from our public survey show that the vast majority of people agree.