Surgery manager accuses health bosses

A DOCTORS' surgery manager in Essex has accused the Department of Health of “interfering” and “never leaving us to get on with the job”.The claim was made after surgeries were told they should no longer be prescribing “over the counter” drugs, which can be bought in pharmacies, shops and supermarkets.

A DOCTORS' surgery manager in Essex has accused the Department of Health of “interfering” and “never leaving us to get on with the job”.

The claim was made after surgeries were told they should no longer be prescribing “over the counter” drugs, which can be bought in pharmacies, shops and supermarkets.

But the cost-cutting move from health bosses has sparked fears that people who receive free prescriptions, such as pensioners and new mothers, will lose out.

Patients are now being told items such as hay fever preparations, creams and gels for sprains and sports injuries and treatments for minor acne, are no longer available.


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However, the North East Essex Primary Care Trust said GPs could use discretion.

But writing in the Great Bentley parish magazine, Hugh Cronin, practice manager of the village surgery said: “To any experienced NHS watchers, it will come as no surprise that the powers that be never leave us for long to get on with the job without interfering.

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“The latest example is that the Department of Health has just decided to poke its nose into what should and shouldn't be prescribed.

“As usual, decisions have been made in the interests of saving money which, I suppose we have to concede, could be better spent in other ways.”

John Cormack, spokesman for the British Medical Association, said he did not think it would prove to be a major problem for patients, saying many could save money.

He said: “It is becoming more and more apparent that the NHS cannot live up to the expectations that politicians have put into their heads.

“People can expect more of these things from the PCTs as they struggle to try to get rid of deficits.”

A spokesman for the North East Essex PCT said: “We have always encouraged patients to purchase their own medicines for minor ailments wherever possible.

“Whilst there is no strict policy that has been enforced over what medicines GPs can prescribe, family doctors are asked to restrict prescribing medicines that can be purchased cheaply at local pharmacies.

“Some 'over the counter medicines' have little or no evidence to suggest they actually work, which is why we are not willing to prescribe them and is not the most appropriate use of public money.

“In some cases it will actually be cheaper for the patient to buy over the counter than it would for a prescription fee.”

The move followed a cost-saving directive demand made on the PCTs by the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

A spokeswoman said: “Analysis on the cost of prescribing these readily available drugs has shown that significant savings could be made.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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