NHS England has said they will no longer provide patients with travel vaccines, gluten-free foods and over-the-counter drugs like painkillers, in an effort to save £400m per year.
NHS England has told GPs not to prescribe medicine for upset stomachs, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion and gluten-free foods.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the move would ‘tackle some of the waste which is still in the system’.
He said: ‘There’s £114m being spent on medicine for upset tummies, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion, and that’s before you get to the £22m-plus on gluten-free that you can also now get at Morrisons, Lidl or Tescos.
‘Part of what we are trying to do is make sure that we make enough headroom to spend money on innovative new drugs by not wasting it on these kind of items.’
The first 10 items under review include travel vaccines, gluten-free foods, fish oils, the painkiller fentanyl, lidocaine medicated plasters, high blood pressure medication doxazosin MR and erectile dysfunction drug tadalafil.
NHS Clinical Commissioners asked NHS England to look into whether the 10 items, which cost a total of £128m annually, are a good use of money.
Dr Amanda Doyle, NHS Clinical Commissioners co-chair, said, the NHS needs to ‘prioritise’ what it spends money on given the health service’s ‘constrained financial circumstances’.
She added: ‘We are currently spending hundreds of millions of pounds on things we would generally consider to be low priority for funding and we are looking at ways of reducing that spending so we can direct the funding in to things that take a higher priority.”
NHS England said it would be releasing guidelines to ‘advise CCGs’ on commissioning medicines that are thought to be low priority.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘The increasing demand for prescriptions for medication that can be bought over the counter at relatively low cost, often for self-limiting or minor conditions, underlines the need for all healthcare professionals to work even closer with patients to ensure the best possible value from NHS resources, whilst eliminating wastage and improving patient outcomes.’
The news comes ahead of details to be released on Friday by NHS England about a ‘delivery plan’ for the Five Year Forward View, which will approve around 10 sustainability and transformation plans.