Over the counter medicines on prescription - can our NHS afford this?

Big savings can be made for the NHS if people buy over the counter medicines rather than ask for them on prescription.
Community Values Panel member

But is this acceptable to local people? And how would the most vulnerable be protected?

Community Values Panel meets 

The first panel helped our local NHS think about whether people should still be able to get over the counter medications on prescription. 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group - who plan and pay for most of our local NHS services - told the panel that they spent £117 million on prescriptions in 2018.

This included £5.3 million on medicines that people could have bought without a prescription.

And how £4.7 million worth of unused medicines were returned last year. Once returned, they must be destroyed and cannot be used for other patients.

What was important to the panellists

Over half of the panellists thought GPs should not prescribe medication that can be bought over the counter. 

Panellists wanted to see people take personal responsibility for their health. But they felt there was a need for better education and information to help people do this. 

“The public needs to be better educated about this.”
— One of the panellists

They were shocked at the level of waste and felt other people would be if they knew. It was important to them that NHS money was spent with care. 

“Those of us who can pay, should pay."
— One of the panellists

The panellists also wanted a safety net in place for vulnerable people so they didn't go without medication if they couldn't afford to pay for it.

Community Values Panel

The Community Values Panel is a diverse and representative mix of 30 members of the public from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 

They came together to give their views on local healthcare funding. And help our local NHS think about how it could reduce its £75 million overspend. 

Find out more


Community Values Panel first report

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