Harrogate and Rural District Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will stop providing medicines that can be bought over the counter in an effort to plug their budget shortfall.
The CCG, which was rated as ‘outstanding’ in NHS England’s Ofsted-style CCG Assurance Annual assessment, is facing a deficit of £8.4 million for 2016/17 but expects that to increase as costs continue to rise.
Measuring the number of people attending A&E over a three-month period (April to June) in 2015/16 and again in 2016/17, the CCG found an increase of 2.7%, equating to an additional £125,000 in unplanned spending.
As a result, the CCG is consulting with the public on ways that demand can be reduced, including no longer providing over the counter medication like paracetamol, which last year cost the CCG £260,000 to prescribe.
The CCG also noted that paracetamol costs the NHS 3p per tablet, while only costing patients 1p per tablet in supermarkets.
Rick Sweeney, governing body member at the CCG, said: ‘Getting medicine on prescription costs much more than buying over the counter due to the time doctors and local pharmacists take when dealing with appointments, handling prescriptions and dispensing medication.
‘Last year, over 3 million items were prescribed to patients across Harrogate and the rural district at a cost of over £25 million.’
Amanda Bloor, chief officer at the CCG confirmed that the organisation will focus its effort on ensuring tax payers receive value for money when confronting these difficult challenges.
She said: ‘It is important that everyone using the NHS appreciates the pressures it faces through growing demand and cost and takes responsibility for using it most effectively so we can help secure high quality local health services.
‘The CCG is working to identify as many efficiency savings as it can. This will mean a renewed focus on self-care and healthy lifestyle choices by individuals and may include reduction or withdrawal of certain services that do not improve outcomes.’