Cutbacks mean fewer prescriptions for West Kent patients

    NHS cutbacks will mean West Kent doctors can no longer prescribe medicine that can be bought over the counter.

    The region’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is now discouraging GPs from handing out prescriptions for some treatments to save £300,000 to £400,000 a year.

    Medicine that will only be available to buy in a chemist includes medicated shampoos, indigestion treatments, skin creams, cold and flu remedies and head lice lotion.

    A spokesman from the West Kent CCG said: “Like most NHS organisations we are facing serious financial pressures.

    “Because of this we are continuing to look at ways to make the best use of NHS money.

    “As part of this the CCG has reviewed its policy on the prescribing of over-the-counter medicines for minor illnesses and ailments.

    “Each year the CCG spends £1.8million on prescribing medicines that can be routinely purchased over the counter at pharmacies – often far cheaper than the cost to the NHS.”

    The West Kent area, which includes Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, joins other regions which have already made the conversion.

    The spokesman added: “We are asking GPs to think first before prescribing these common over-the-counter medicines and asking patients to buy these at the pharmacy where appropriate.

    “There are safeguards in place to ensure that people on lower incomes, those with disabilities and mobility problems and other vulnerable patients groups are not disadvantaged and still get the medicines they need when they need them.

    “This does not affect any long-term or regular prescriptions.”