The NHS will no longer pay for paracetamol, gluten free food or hay fever medicine in money saving bid.

Simon Stevens, head of the health service, has outlined plans which will see certain medicines and foods be scrapped from the NHS in a money-saving drive.

Co-proxamol, also known as paracetamol, costs the NHS £8.3m a year. Ken Buckler, chair of a London based GP surgeries PPG (patient participation group) commented on how it will affect patients.

“Paracetamol is very cheap to buy over the counter but expensive if on prescription. it is one of the analgesics that suits me but I have never dreamt of asking my doctors for a prescription for it.”

If you are between 18 and 65 you will more than likely have to pay for your prescription of paracetamol which will cost you around £8 and the NHS around £10.

Its not only medication which will be impacted, certain foods which are currently available on NHS prescription will no longer be prescribed.

“I have always found it difficult to understand why food products (gluten free bread) on prescription especially now as many of these products have come down in price. I know several people who are gluten free who would not have thought about asking for a prescription for them.”

Gluten-free foods currently cost the NHS £21.9m a year. If the NHS cut these ten items they will save an average of £119.7m a year. The planned cuts are:

• Liothyronine, used to treat underactive thyroid

• Gluten-free foods

• Lidocaine plasters, for reducing nerve-pain

• Tadalafil, for erectile dysfunction

• Fentanyl, used for terminally ill patients, including those with cancer

• Travel vaccines

• Doxazosin, for high blood pressure

• Rubs and ointments

• Omega 3 and fish oils

Clinical commissioning Groups have also suggested approximately £67m could be saved if the NHS also look at cutting hay fever medicine, indigestion and heartburn remedies, sun cream, cold and cough medicine.

The cuts come after the NHS announces a surge in demand due to rising population. They are hoping the new measures will give the health service £1bn.

* Figures taken from NHS Digital’s Prescription Cost Analysis England 2015.

Words: Amy Taylor

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