The NHS is asking people to help your NHS by buying your own medicines for short-term ailments, over the counter, at a pharmacy.
Many common ailments can be treated at home using medicines bought over the counter at a pharmacy – you don’t need a prescription. It’s easier, quicker, cheaper.
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As a result, we are urging people to help the NHS by buying some medicines from their local pharmacy or as part of their basic household grocery shop, and using them to self-treat minor illnesses rather than seeking a prescription through a GP appointment.
Every year in Sussex and East Surrey we spend more than £10million prescribing medicines and products that are easily available to buy over the counter.
A pack of painkillers costs around 30p from a pharmacy, whereas the cost to the NHS is more than £35 when all costs are included.
It costs the NHS much more to prescribe these drugs than it does for an individual to buy them.
By encouraging more people to self-care and buy over the counter medicines such as paracetamols and antihistamines, we will be able to manage the increasing demand on local health services.
The types of medicines we are talking about is treatment for travel sickness, hayfever and other allergies, indigestion or upset stomach, pain and fever, dry skin and coughs, colds and sore throats.
For all of these, pharmacists can assess your symptoms, advise you on how to care for yourself and help you buy the medicine you need.
You don’t need an appointment and many pharmacies are open late and at weekends.
This call to help the NHS comes as new national guidance has gone live in Coastal West Sussex this month.
The guidance curbs the routine prescribing of products that are for a self-limiting condition, which does not require any medical advice or treatment as it will clear up on its own, such as sore throats, coughs and colds or a condition that is suitable for self-care, which can be treated with items that can easily be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy, such as indigestion, mouth ulcers and warts and verrucae.
Importantly, GPs will still be able to prescribe these medicines in exceptional circumstances, such as when patients are experiencing long-term or more complex conditions.
In addition, for patients where the clinician considers that their ability to self-manage is compromised as a consequence of medical, mental health or significant social vulnerability these patients will continue to receive prescriptions for over the counter items subject to the item being clinically effective.
Similarly if someone is receiving benefits due to a health condition but wants to buy over the counter medicines, please speak to your GP so that evidence can be provided.
We hope that people will support this change and work with us to #HelpMyNHS
For more information on self-care and local NHS services, visit www.sussexhelpmy.nhs.uk
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