Despite the NHS direction not to ban any medicine from being prescribed that can now be purchased without a prescription, the NHS Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has issued instructions to GPs not to prescribe these medicines which the GPs are following.
The list of medicines to which this guidance applies is here and includes vitamin D, skin creams, nasal sprays (like saline solution for babies and Beconase for adults), lubricant eye drops, haemorrhoid creams, constipation laxatives like Cosmocol, the commonly used painkillers, or dispersible aspirin to keep blood thin.
We have asked Harrow CCG to clarify their action that hits hard vulnerable, elderly, school age children or those on benefits, who are exempted from the prescription charges.
The NHS North West London made the following clear recommendations:
“Ask if they (patents) will buy it. If the patient’s answer is ‘no’ (i.e. the patient is unable or unwilling to purchase the product), or if you are not confident in their ‘yes’, the product should be prescribed.
“The CCGs are not asking any prescriber to have lengthy conversations with patients about this. If the patient says s/he is not willing to buy the medicine, or if the prescriber is not confident in the patient saying that s/he will buy it, the CCGs recommend simply prescribing it.”
The NHS NWL letter was very specific, for example under “can the prescriber refer the complaint to his or her CCG?” it said:
“If the recommendation above is followed, there should be little cause for a patient to complain. If he or she says that s/he is not willing to buy the medicine, or if the prescriber is not confident in the patient saying that s/he will buy it, the medicine should be prescribed. But yes, prescribers are encouraged to direct people who want to complain about the recommendation to the CCGs’ complaints team.”
The Harrow CCG should fully follow NHS North West London recommendations to the prescribers and instruct GPs to do the same.
We have also asked the Harrow council leader Cllr Graham Henson to intervene as he chairs the Harrow Health and Wellbeing Board which is working in partnership with the Harrow CCG!