Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG spends over £4m annually on prescribing medicines that patients could buy themselves.

As part of Self-Care Week, which runs from 14 to 20 November, the CCG has revealed that they spend £1.5m each year on prescribing painkillers for patients, who could have bought them from pharmacies or supermarkets.

The also spend £1.2m to treat upset stomachs, £550,000 on antihistamines for hayfever, £320,000 to treat heartburn and indigestion and £93,000 for travel sickness treatment.

All of these medicines can be bought at local pharmacies or supermarkets for less than it costs the NHS to prescribe.

Sati Ubhi, chief pharmacist at the CCG, said: “Medication for an upset stomach can cost as little as £1 for six capsules at a pharmacy. But if you go to your GP with your upset stomach and get a prescription, the total cost to your NHS is approximately £45. We all have a responsibility to look after our own health and look after our NHS.”

The £45 spent on a prescription if you see a GP, includes the cost of the GP consultation time, the cost of the medication, and dispensing fee.

Ubhi added: “We fully understand that for some people getting a prescription for free is the only way to access medications. And in other cases people need daily painkillers for example, which makes it unaffordable in the long-term.

“But for lots of other people needing a short dose of treatment, 25p for paracetamol or £1 for tablets for an upset stomach is affordable.”

Self-Care Week is run by the Self Care Forum to raise awareness of the importance of health and lifestyle options.

Carolyn Wickware