Reading patients face changes to which medications their GP will or won’t prescribe

Posted 08/09/2017

Local GPs have agreed to stop prescribing some medicines and items to people in Reading, following a public consultation which attracted more than 750 responses.

However a proposal to stop pharmacies managing repeat prescribing on behalf of patients, has been rejected for now after concerns were raised about the impact this would have on elderly or other vulnerable people.

The changes to prescribing policy were revealed at a meeting on 6 September of clinicians and officials who manage the NHS budget for South Reading. They agreed:

  • to cease funding gluten-free foods on the NHS for adults and children
  • to stop prescribing over-the-counter medicines, such as: paracetamol for headache or fever (although GPs may still decide to prescribe paracetamol to treat long-term conditions like osteoarthritis); loperamide for one-off diarrhoea; senna and macrogol for one-off constipation; antihistamines for minor allergic responses; head-lice treatments; and antifungal creams and powders for athletes foot and verruca
  • to stop providing travel vaccines for free on the NHS, except a list of national exceptions set out on the NHS Choices  website. Patients are set to face charges for all other travel vaccines from 1 October 2017
  • reduce prescribing of vitamins and other supplements
  • stop making sunscreen available on the NHS, except for certain patients with sensitive skin such as those who have albinism or vitiligo, rosacea or phtosensitive dermatisis, lupus, or those whose skin is made sensitive by taking certain medications
  • cease all prescribing of the combined treatment of levothyroxine and liothyronine for thyroid issues, as well as Armour Thyroid (dried thyroid hormone extracts), due to a lack of evidence of effectiveness
  • stop prescribing camouflage creams and powders on the NHS, although GPs can make ‘invididual funding requests’ to prescribe these for patients emotionally affected by severe disfigurement of the face caused by birthmarks, hyperpigmentation, melasma, vitiligo, or scars from surgery, accidents, skin diseases, acne, violence or burns
  • to reject a proposal to only allow repeat prescribing to be managed by GP practices, and to try and address concerns made during the public consultation with a view to resubmitting a plan in the future.

GPs in North and West Reading, and in West Berkshire and Wokingham, will also vote on the same proposals at various meetings during September 2017, and should they agree, full information will be made available to help explain the changes to the public.

The new Berkshire West prescribing policy has been changed ahead of a similar national, public consultation on medicines run by NHS England, due to end on 21 October.

How local people responded to the consultation

– 419 responses (64%) agreed with the proposal to stop funding gluten-free food; while 166 (25%) disagreed

– 505 (77%) agreed to the plan to stop funding medicines that are available to buy over the counter, however 552 responses (85%) agreed that exceptions should be made for over-the-counter medicines for long-term conditions

– 476 out of 655 responses agreed that travel vaccines should no longer be free, while 119 responses disagreed

– 482 responses out of 656 backed the idea of reducing the prescribing of vitamins and other supplments

– 469 responses of 656 agreed with proposals  to stop making sunscreen and camouflage products available on the NHS, while 97 responses disagreed

– 286 responses out of 651 agreed to the plan not to use liothyronine, 79 responses disagreed

– 360 people agreed with the proposal for people only being allowed to order repeat prescriptions from their GP practice (instead of leeting their pharmacist manage this on their behalf as currently happens), while 219 responses disagreed. 59 of those who disagreed were concerned about the impact on the frail and elderly, those who are housebound and those who are vulnerable and 30 responses worried about increased workload on GP practices.


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