Somerset has become the latest CCG implement a strategy allowing pharmacists to treat minor illnesses by restricting local GPs prescribing items such as throat-sprays, hair removing cream, and coughs and cold remedies.

The NHS Somerset CCG’s governing body has given the green light to the recommendation that GPs cease prescribing products for minor ailments more suitable for 'self-care non-formulary' from 1 December.

The list of 25 types of products that GPs will be stopped from prescribing also includes pain killers, indigestion remedies, vitamin supplements (including vitamin D), head lice lotions, nappy rash creams and homeopathic remedies.

The CCG is encouraging patients to visit their pharmacy first and self-care for minor ailments.

Dr Ed Ford, interim chairman of NHS Somerset CCG, said: “This difficult decision has been reached after a comprehensive review of the cost effectiveness of all areas of GP Prescribing.

“We also accepted the recommendation from the CCG’s Prescribing and Medicines Management Committee who concluded that continuing to spend over £3 million each year on such products was not a cost effective use of NHS resources.”

Dr Ford added: “We will instead promote greater self-care by patients supported by health advice from all healthcare professionals including community pharmacies.”

The move comes hot on the heels of Somerset CCG’s recommendation that the county’s GPs should no longer prescribe gluten-free foods to people living with coeliac disease.

In October the CCG proposed that also from 1 December people living with the disease no longer receive such foods on prescription.

At the time of the decision, Dr Ford said that “the continued prescribing of gluten-free products is not good considered good use of scarce NHS resources”.

A raft of CCGs have issued GPs with instructions to ration services and prescribing over the last year. In just one example NHS North East Essex CCG decided to restrict a wide range of services including IVF, gluten free prescriptions, vasectomy and female sterilization.

The full list of items that GPs in Somerset will no longer prescribe:

1. Hay fever preparations and travel medicines

2. Pain killers for minor aches and pains

3. Soluble pain killers (because of high salt content)

4. Treatments for non-serious constipation or diarrhoea

5. Creams, gels, oils and dressings for minor sprains, sports injuries and scars

6. Moisturisers and bath additives for minor dry skin conditions; sun creams

7. Indigestion remedies for occasional use

8. Athletes’ foot creams and powders

9. Tonic, vitamin, and health supplements – including vitamin D supplements

10. Nappy rash/barrier creams; Hair removing creams; antiperspirants

11. Lozenges, throat sprays, mouthwashes, gargles and toothpastes

12. Treatments for minor facial spots

13. Treatments for fungal skin, nail infections and dandruff

14. Cough and cold remedies

15. Nasal decongestants (and Sterimar)

16. Topical treatments for vaginal thrush

17. Slimming preparations (except within national guidelines)

18. Foods and toilet preparations except where clinically indicated, cakes; cake mixes and biscuits; ready-made thickened juices; soya milks

20. Threadworm tablets

21. Treatments for warts and verrucas

22. Creams for bruising, tattoos, varicose veins and scars

23. Head lice lotions and shampoos (wet combing is recommended)

24. Ear wax removers (a few drops of olive oil is just as good as anything on prescription)

25. Homeopathic remedies

Source: NHS Somerset CCG

Article by Sally Nash