NHS draws up list of items to be banned from prescriptions

NHS draws up list of items to be banned from prescriptions

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens removes gluten-free food and medication for upset stomachs and haemorrhoids from list of prescribed items

The NHS is to stop giving patients travel vaccinations, gluten-free foods and some drugs that can be bought over the counter in an effort to rescue its ailing finances.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, announced the changes in an interview with the Daily Mail in which he detailed new efforts to get better value for money so that money saved could instead be spent on promising therapies that have recently been developed.

NHS services face 'impossible' budget crisis, health trusts warn

Read more

GPs will be told to not prescribe medications such as those for upset stomachs, travel sickness and haemorrhoids in a new drive to eliminate waste from the NHS’s £120bn annual budget.

Stevens said: “We’ve got to tackle some of the waste which is still in the system. The NHS is a very efficient health service but like every country’s health service there is inefficiency and waste.

“There’s £114m being spent on medicine for upset tummies, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion, [and] and that’s before you get to the £22m-plus on gluten-free that you can also now get at Morrison’s, Lidl or Tescos.

Much more at this link - and, I assume, pretty much every other news otulet in the UK:


Surprised vitamin D isn't on that list. Yet.

22 Replies

  • We might wonder why statins are not on the list?

  • I once had a voluntary position on a Committee - representing the man on the street - along with various other medical bods. This was over 20 years ago and I was sent a huge book of stats and told to prepare a question for the first meeting. I went to Gastroenterology as I only knew about my own condition - Crohns. I was horrified to see the millions spent on Dyspepsia prescriptions in a year in Cornwall and the IOS. Must be the pasties :-) I also remember it cost 5 million to close the mental Hospital in Bodmin. I dumped the book before moving here - wish I had kept it now - it was most revealing - but I wasn't so into things then as I am now.

    Have tried to find the information on-line but have failed miserably ....

    I do actually agree that many things can be bought from the Chemist and of course it could reduce waiting times at GP surgeries if people are encouraged to take care of themselves.

    The downside of course is - where will this all end.

  • And according to the BBC News website number one on the initial list of 10 products that has been drawn up by the NHS Clinical Commissioners is Liothyronine.

  • T3 readily available over the counter!!!

  • Suddenly this is not so funny. I can't see the list on the NHS/official website. I see liothyronine is in some news reports but not others. Anyone found an official list?

  • The BBC report attributes NHS Clinical Commissioners, but I can't see anything on their site:


  • Thanks helvella nhscc.org/latest-news/400m-...

    omg liothyronine is on the list as:

    'Products which are clinically effective but where more cost-effective products are available (£58.69m) – this includes products that have been subject to excessive price inflation.

    Liothyronine (£30.93m) – Used for underactive thyroid. High cost and limited evidence. Vast majority of patients controlled on much cheaper Levothyroxine.'

  • Vast majority of patients controlled on much cheaper Levothyroxine.

    Ergo those who are not 'controlled' on levothyroxine don't matter!

    Furthermore, there's an underlying implication that quality of life is irrelevant, it's simply about 'controlling' the condition i.e. getting and keeping the numbers somewhere within the designated range.

  • Talk about shoot the messenger - it's not the patient's fault that drug companies are allowed to extort excess profits from the NHS. One step forward (BTA Dec 16 revised guidelines on T3). Two steps back.

  • It's all about the numbers, now. :(

  • I'd also include over the counter analgesics. They are ridiculously cheap so I can't see why they prescribe them. I have an acquaintance who's having ibs like symptoms and was prescribed Buscopan. She ran out and so got some pain again and made another GP appt. to get some more. I told her she could buy it otc and it wasn't expensive. Her response was that it was even cheaper from the GP i.e. free because she's "a pensioner". Her husband is a poorly man who's receiving a great deal of expensive treatment via the NHS but she won't put her hand in her purse. They have several coffee and cake trips a week. People really have lost sight of what's important haven't they.


    Is this for definite or just some kite flying exercise to see if anyone responds to such an outrageous proposal?

  • What on earth will thise dependent on T3 do? When I first heard this I thought sensible, why get paracetamol, rubs and cold remedies on prescription. Then I see number one on the list is T3. WTF? Even the British Thyroid Association now recognise some people need T3 and basically Mercury Pharma and its expoitation of its market position is the reason we find ourselves in this mess. Don't take it out on the patients. Pharmacists are not going to hand out T3 to everyone who asks for it without some sort of prescription (its potency if used incorrectly and by uninformed people is huge) so how would that work????

  • I thought the NHS would make money off OTC meds that cost less than a prescription (like ferrous fumarate) as they get the prescription money but spend less on the medication. Or perhaps those who pay for prescriptions don't bother going to the GP for OTC meds.

  • Yes, I wondered that about the charges. They can work out extremely high for people with chronic illnesses who aren't exempt. Although i suppose the list of people who get them free is very large.

  • The cost of the whole prescribing process is significant. Every single prescription has to be processed multiple times.

    I think I saw £9 as the overhead cost.

  • So perhaps the admin needs an overhaul ... A return to free prescriptions might be cheaper.

  • I think a lot of the overhead is so pharmacies can claim their due payment. Not sure if you could meaningfully separate out the two aspects.

  • The same article on the BBC website invites your comments [see at end of the article...]

    Would this review have an impact on you? You can share your comments by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

    Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:

    • WhatsApp: +44 7555 173285

    • Send pictures/video to yourpics@bbc.co.uk

    • Upload your pictures / video here

    • Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSay

    • Text an SMS or MMS to 61124 (UK) or +44 7624 800 100 (international)

    Or use the form below...

    [see the website]

    If you are happy to be contacted by a BBC journalist please leave a telephone number that we can contact you on. In some cases a selection of your comments will be published, displaying your name as you provide it and location, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. When sending us pictures, video or eyewitness accounts at no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.

  • If we are not willing to pay for the NHS the myth of there being no alternative but to destroy it can be pedalled out until there is nothing of it left. The Germans pay a lot more tax for their health system and surprize surprise it actually delivers good quality care. If only people would see the wood for the trees and stop squabbling over which medicine should not be available and thought about the real issues i.e. You cannot get something for nothing we might be able to work out what really matters in the long run, and fight for it. It is as though everyone has been brain washed with a fiction.

  • I thought I'd be deprived of my paltry D dose, but that'll likely be in the next round of cuts. :(

  • I don't have a problem with this in principle but yet again it will be the poorest in society that will suffer the most. Some people get free prescriptions due to low income. Not all pensiowners are living on a reasonable income. It's a worrying direction for the NHS to be travelling in.

You may also like...