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Buying over the counter medicine frees up £80k for NHS

Residents buying their own low cost medicines for short term ailments have helped the NHS free up just under £80,000 in a year, which can be invested in local frontline health care services.

Many common ailments can be treated at home using medicines bought over the counter at a pharmacy or local shop. These cost the NHS far more through a prescription and GP appointment than if people buy for themselves. For example a pack of painkillers can costs around 30p to buy, but can cost the NHS more than £35 when prescribed by the GP.

In the last year alone more than £79,950 was saved by the NHS in Brighton and Hove on over the counter medicines which people can buy themselves, including
• £72,500 on medicines for minor conditions associated with pain, discomfort and fever.
• Almost £5,700 saved on prescribed vitamins and minerals
• Over £2,200 on Ringworm and Athletes foot treatment

In Brighton and Hove more than £2.11 million was spent in the last year for conditions suitable to be treated with over the counter medicine. Residents can help their local NHS even further by speaking to their local pharmacist about stocking up on medicines treat common conditions such as:
• Travel sickness
• Hayfever and other allergies
• Indigestion or upset stomach
• Pain and fever
• Dry skin
• Coughs, colds and sore throats

Dr David Supple, Clinical Chair of the CCG, said: “We’ve been calling on local people to help their NHS by buying those medicines easily available from their local pharmacy or as part of their grocery shop, rather than seeking a prescription through a GP appointment. In the last year tens of thousands of pounds have been saved by the NHS on over the counter medicines, and we think even more can be saved”.

“By encouraging more of our patients to self-care by buying over the counter medicines such as paracetamols and antihistamines, we will have more money to spend on nurses, cancer treatments and GP services.”

GPs will still be able to prescribe these medicines in circumstances such as when patients are experiencing long-term or more complex conditions, but in the majority of cases getting a prescription at extra cost to the NHS will not be necessary.