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CCG bans GPs from prescribing OTC medicines and gluten-free foods

NHS Luton CCG has become the latest to rubber-stamp a ban on GPs prescribing over-the-counter medicines and most gluten-free foods.

The CCG said the decision, which follows a consultation with patients, will save it £110,000 annually.

It will include the banning of signing FP10s for medicines that are readily available without a prescription, such as paracetamol.

The decision is in line with NHS England guidance issued in March, which called on CCGs to stop OTC prescribing.

It also limits gluten-free prescribing to only breads and flour mixes, which is in line with the Department of Health and Social Care’s response to a consultation in February.

Dr Chirag Bakhai, clinical director and a local GP, said: ‘The NHS pays much more than the consumer for the same ove-the-counter medicines and gluten-free products.

‘The majority of minor illnesses resolve on their own without any treatment. If needed, medicines such as antihistamines or paracetamol are available over the counter. By limiting these products on prescription for short-term, self-limiting illnesses, funding can be reinvested to benefit the whole of the population of Luton.’

He added that the changes would not affect people needing to take such medicines long-term.

NHS England’s OTC prescribing guidance covered eight self-limiting conditions and 27 minor ailments including diarrhoea in adults, dandruff, indigestion, mouth ulcers, travel sickness and coughs and colds.

The NHS estimates savings of almost £100m to be reinvested in frontline services from the move.

Many CCGs also moved to curb OTC prescribing before the guidance was published, including NHS East Lancashire CCG, NHS Dudley CCG, NHS Barking and Dagenham CCG, NHS Bedfordshire CCG and NHS Croydon CCG.