RPS England responds to review of prescribing of certain products and medicines

Sandra Gidley 3by RPS England Chair Sandra Gidley

The NHS has traditionally provided treatment free at the point of use for both short term and life-long conditions.

Today, reporting shows this is being reconsidered.  This could be interpreted as an attack on this important principle.

Balanced against this view is the need for the NHS to be as cost effective as possible in a term of constrained resources. We understand the need for prioritisation.

We are in agreement with NHS England that products with low or no clinical evidence of effectiveness should be reviewed with urgency. We are surprised that homeopathy which has no scientific evidence of effectiveness is not on the list for review. We would also agree that procurement of medicines and other products should be reviewed to try and reduce the costs of medicines to the NHS.

We are concerned of how a blanket ban of products to treat life-long conditions such as coeliac disease and chronic pain could have unintended consequences on those who rely on these treatments to both improve the quality of life. In the case of coeliac disease specifically, untreated and undertreated cases can lead to illness, and have been associated with the development of other serious conditions. For those on low incomes ability to pay for products and medicines can be a significant barrier to accessing treatment.

We would support a person centred review by pharmacists of those taking these medicines, looking first at medicines waste which we know contributes to around £300M of cost to the NHS, so tackling the problem in its broadest sense for maximum benefit.

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