NHS spending on over-the-counter (OTC) medication in England fell by £25.9m, despite promises of up to £100m in savings.
In March last year, NHS England issued guidance to CCGs to ‘free up’ up to £100 million by reducing the number of prescriptions for OTC medicine.
A few months after the guidance was published, Pulse revealed GPs were having to deal with more patient complaints as a result of their OTC rationing.
However, in the 12 months to January 2019, the NHS spent £449.4 million on OTC medication. That is a total of £25.9 million in savings, compared with the £475.3 million the NHS spent the previous year.
The figures were revealed in a written statement by health minister Seema Kennedy last week.
She said: ‘This saving does not account for the potential impact to the NHS from a reduced number of GP appointments, for which no assessment has been made.’
The guidance outlined its proposals for CCGs to curb routine prescribing of 35 minor, short-term conditions such as constipation, diarrhoea and athlete’s foot.
The goal at the time, according to NHSE was that the rationing ’will free up NHS funds for frontline care.’