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NHS England to Issue New Guidance on Low Value Prescription Items

The chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens has announced a review of low value prescription items, which the National Health Service may stop prescribing in an effort to make significant savings.

From April 2017, the NHS England will be issuing a new guidance restricting the future prescription of a range of low value medicines. The new guidance will advice Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) nationwide to not prescribe certain low-value medicines. NHS England hope the new Guidance will save the service up to £400m per year.

Initially, NHS England will develop guidelines around a set of 10 medicines that are unnecessary, ineffective and inappropriate for prescription on the NHS. These medicines include treatment for antihistamines, indigestion, coughs and colds, heartburn medication and suncream.

NHS England said these "low-value" prescription items are thought to cost the service £128 million per year. While developing the guidance, the views of patient groups, healthcare professionals, commissioners and providers across the NHS will be taken.

The chair of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard welcome the decision and said that the college was keen to work with NHS England and other National bodies in the devolved nations to make the changes a success.

A spokesperson for NHS England said that the new guidelines will instruct Clinical Commissioning Groups on the ordering of medicines generally measured as low priority and will provide support to CCGs, prescribers and dispensers.

Spokesperson added that the rising demand for prescriptions for medicine that can be bought over-the-counter at quite low cost, often for self-limiting or minor illnesses, highlights the need for all clinicians to work even closer with patients to make sure the best possible value from NHS resources, while removing wastage and improving patient outcomes.

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