Worcester News Article – 19th February

One of Healthwatch Worcestershire’s responsibilities is to watch over the quality of health and care services and to provide people with advice and guidance about getting those services.

One of the issues that has featured in my post bag recently has been the impact for patients of the decision that Worcestershire’s Clinical Commissioning Groups took last August under the title of their ‘Self Care’ policy. This policy expects that where suitable treatments, such as paracetemol or hay-fever tablets, are available to buy, patients with minor conditions suitable for self-care will purchase their own medication over-the-counter from community pharmacies. In simple terms this policy aims to restrict our GPs prescribing drugs and other treatments that we can buy at chemists and other retailers such as supermarkets.

It is important to note that the policy is not a blanket prohibition on GPs prescribing medication covered by it; there are safeguards to protect against unintended consequences, the policy does not apply to medication required for the treatment of long term conditions, and GPs ultimately retain discretion to prescribe where they believe exceptional clinical circumstances warrant it. You can find out more about the policy by visiting our website or by contacting Healthwatch.

Healthwatch wants to know how this ‘Self Care’ policy is working for patients, so if you have had experience of it with your GP we would like to hear from you, in confidence of course. In another twist to this situation NHS England are currently consulting on a national policy to reduce the prescribing of over-the-counter drugs for 33 minor, short-term health concerns with the intention of producing a consistent national framework for CCGs to follow.

If you want to know more about Healthwatch Worcestershire, or have an experience of health or social care to share with us in confidence, please visit our website, contact us on 01386 550 264 or email us at info@healthwatchworcestershire.co.uk . All our published reports are available on our website www.healthwatchworcestershire.co.uk , and there you will find more information about NHS England’s consultation.