It’s your NHS, please use it wisely  – that’s the message to people in Kirklees as a new campaign seeks to highlight the true cost of providing small quantities of some common medicines on prescription.

In fact, some over-the-counter medicines are up to four times more expensive when prescribed, compared to the price in local pharmacies, shops and supermarkets.

Greater Huddersfield and North Kirklees CCGs spend a total of around £1.3m each year on medicines which are readily available over-the-counter, a cost which is equivalent to:

  • 211 hip operations;
  • 1,380 cataract operations;
  • 91 breast cancer treatments; or
  • 43 community nurses.

We’re encouraging people to think about using NHS resources more effectively and to buy small quantities of over-the counter-medicines for short term use from a local shop, supermarket or pharmacy. If you’re a patient who needs these drugs in regular large quantities, don’t worry – you can still get them on repeat prescription.

Over-the-counter medicines include:

  • Antihistamines – used to treat allergic conditions such as hay fever, itching, bites and stings.
  • Painkillers including paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Nasal sprays for acute nasal congestion.
  • Haemorrhoid treatments.
  • Cough and cold remedies.

By choosing inexpensive in-store brands, patients can buy their medicines for less than half the price the NHS pays when providing them on prescription. At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressures, providing small quantities of these medicines on prescription is not an effective use of money.

Dr Steve Ollerton, Clinical Leader, NHS Greater Huddersfield CCG and local GP said:

“Every time a doctor writes a prescription, the NHS incurs additional charges due to dispensing and administrative fees. If you include the GP’s time, the cost is even higher. These common medicines can be bought from a shop or pharmacy for less than half the price the NHS pays when providing them on prescription. For that reason, we’re asking people to make this choice. This will help us save money that we can then invest elsewhere to provide care for the patients in Kirklees who need it the most.”

For more details, please take a look at this flyer.

As well as buying over-the-counter medicines from pharmacies, please remember that your local pharmacist can give you advice on treating minor ailments such as coughs and colds, mild eczema and athlete’s foot. For the opening times of your nearest pharmacy visit the NHS Choices website here.