Newpolicy on drugs will help to cut costs

GPS inMaidstone andWest Kent are to reduceprescribingmedicines whichcanbebought easily over the counter at pharmacies and super- markets. Insome cases, thiswillbe cheaper for patients thanNHS pre- scription charges. This policy only covers short

courses of treatment – not regular, long-termprescriptions. TheGP-ledNHSWestKentClini-

cal Commissioning Group(CCG), facing increasing budget pressures, says it spends about £1.7ma year on thesemedicines. A local survey revealed that 85%

of patients receiving these prescrip- tions would buy themfroma phar- macy if their GP asked them – but 15%said itwould be a problem. The CCG has nowapproved a re-

stricted list ofmedicines and a pub- licity campaign, which will include posters and leaflets in GP practices and pharmacies. Conditions commonly treated with over-the-countermedicines in-

clude:diarrhoea, constipation, acute pain, athlete’s foot, fever, oral and vaginal thrush, head lice, insect

bites/stings, conjunctivitis, contact dermatitis, sore throat, headache, in- digestion/heartburn, cold sores, teething, nappy rash, mouth ulcers, haemorrhoids, ear wax, warts, ver- rucaes, soft tissue injury, viral upper respiratory tract infections, scabies, ring worm, mild acne and minor burns/scalds. TheCCGhas agreed some clinical

exclusions are permitted at the dis- cretion of the prescriber and these include pregnancy, breastfeeding andage.Accessibility issueswill also be considered including disabilities, houseboundpatients, care home res- idents etc. There is also a west Kent “safety

net” in Pharmacy First which offers not just expert advice but also free medication for certain illnesses to peoplewho do not normally pay for prescriptions.

Formore local news

Health News Ambulance

calls failure THElocal ambulance service, still in “special measures”, has recordeda “significantdeteriora- tion” in attending most urgent callswith an eight-minute target – from60.75%to 55.28%(July).


diagnoses SOME 60% of all cancers in the westKent areawerediagnosedat Stage 1 or 2 last year, a 4% im- provement and above the na- tional average.


even? THEchief finance officer has in- formed the CCG it will only break even at the end of the fi- nancial year though “a contin- ued focus on cost containment and cost reduction”.


AS the NHS prepares for winter pressures all local GP practices are being encouraged to increase uptake of flu inoculations.

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