Lincolnshire East Clinical Commissioning Group spent £446,000 last year on all prescribed paracetamol. Across the whole of Lincolnshire the amount spent was in excess of £1.2m.
Patients are being asked to reconsider before they request paracetamol 500mg tablets on prescription for short-term conditions, such as colds, flu, headaches and other aches and pains. Every home should have a medicines cabinet, adequately stocked with low cost generic treatments that can be used for the short-term relief of common conditions. A box of 16 paracetamol 500mg tablets can cost less than 30p from a supermarket, healthfood store or community pharmacy.
Many people are prescribed regular paracetamol up to a maximum of four times daily to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for long-term conditions, such as arthritis. This is entirely appropriate and it is not the intention to prevent those people from continuing to receive prescriptions for paracetamol on the NHS. However, patients in East Lincolnshire are being asked not to expect paracetamol to be prescribed for short-term use for minor conditions.
Dr Peter Holmes, GP and Chair of NHS Lincolnshire East CCG explains, “At a time when the NHS is facing huge financial pressures, providing small quantities of these painkillers on prescription is not an effective use of funds. Every time a doctor writes a prescription, the NHS incurs additional charges through dispensing and administrative fees, and if GP time is also included the cost rises even higher.
“These painkillers can be bought from a shop or pharmacy for far less than the price the NHS pays when providing them on prescription. For that reason, we’re asking people to make this choice. By doing so they will help us save money that can be spent locally providing care for our patients in East Lincolnshire.