During the summer of 2017, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs consulted on a proposal to promote self-care to patients with minor illnesses and encourage them to seek advice and support from pharmacists and buy medicines themselves, rather than through GP prescriptions.
Following the consultation exercise, the combined Governing Body of Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs approved the new policies and they took effect from January 2018.
As part of our consultation principles, we report back on what you said to us about the proposals and what our response was. A summary of this can be found in the ‘You Said, We Did’ report below.
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This report summarises feedback we received during our consultation on over the counter medicines, and what we have done as a result.
About the proposal
Minor ailments, such as a common cold, cough, headache or upset stomach can be treated with medicines that can be bought over the counter in a pharmacy or supermarket.
Currently, one-fifth of GP appointments are taken up by people who want advice and treatment for a minor ailment, costing the NHS in England about £2 billion a year.
Prior to the policy changes that will be made as a result of this consultation, the NHS in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire spent around £10 million a year on medicines that can be bought over the counter.
We want to use NHS funding in the best way to benefit patients. Therefore we ran a consultation to ask patients and professionals (GPs and pharmacists) to think about whether a prescription for an over the counter medicine is required.
Many common medicines are cheaper to buy over the counter than the current £8.60 prescription charge.
This does not mean an end to prescribing these medicines. Those who need medicines prescribed will continue to have them prescribed.
Criteria Based Access [CBA] – Where a CCG has published a policy setting out eligibility criteria. If clinicians are content that the patient meets the criteria, they may proceed to treat without seeking funding approval.
Prior Approval [PA] – Where a CCG has published a policy setting out eligibility criteria. Clinicians, where they feel patients meet the criteria, must seek funding approval from the commissioners prior to treating.
Individual Fund Request [IFR] – Where a CCG has published a policy stating that certain treatments are not routinely funded. Treatment will only be funded via agreement from commissioners in exceptional circumstances
Clinical pathway – A systematic way of treating and managing diseases in the NHS. A clinical pathway outlines the way a patient should be cared for through the NHS system from first presentation, followed by testing and diagnosis and through to completion of treatment.