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NHS England Consultation on Low Priority Medicines

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NHS England consultation on items which should not be routinely prescribed in primary care 

Set out in NHS England’s consultation document are proposed national guidance for CCGs on medicines which can be considered to be of low priority for NHS funding. The commissioning guidance, upon which NHS England are consulting, will be addressed to CCGs to support them to fulfil their duties around appropriate use of prescribing resources. This will need to be taken into account by CCGs in adopting or amending their own local guidance to their clinicians in primary care. The aim of this consultation is to provide you with information about the proposed national guidance and to seek your views about the proposals.

The survey for this consultation closed on 21st October 2017.

Background information from NHS England

Last year 1.1 billion prescription items were dispensed in primary care at a cost of £9.2billion. This cost coupled with finite resources means it is important that the NHS achieves the greatest value from the money that it spends.  We know that across England there is significant variation in what is being prescribed and to whom.  Often patients are receiving medicines which have been proven to be ineffective or in some cases dangerous, for which there are other more effective, safer and/or cheaper alternatives.

NHS England has partnered with NHS Clinical Commissioners to support Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in ensuring that they can use their prescribing resources effectively and deliver best patient outcomes from the medicines that their local population uses. CCGs asked for a nationally co-ordinated approach to the development of commissioning guidance in this area to ensure consistency and address unwarranted variation. The aim is that this will lead to a more equitable process for making decisions about guidance on medicines but CCGs will need to take individual decisions on implementation locally.

Prescription curbs to free up millions of pounds for frontline care

NHS England has agreed plans to recommend low value treatments no longer be provided on the NHS, which could save millions of pounds each year, GPs issued 1.1 billion prescription items at a cost of £9.2 billion in 2015/16. The vast majority were appropriate but some were for medicines, products or treatments that do not require a prescription and can be purchased over the counter at a much lower cost than the price paid by the NHS. The NHS could save around £190 million a year by cutting such prescriptions for minor, short-term conditions. NHS England will now press ahead with guidance to GPs and CCGs to remove ineffective, unsafe and low clinical value treatments, such as some dietary supplements herbal treatments and homeopathy.

NHS England Guidance

As a result of this consultation, NHS England has published guidance addressed to CCGs to support them to fulfill their duties around appropriate use of prescribing resources. To view the guidance, please visit: