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Over-the-counter medicines: update

You may remember that the Government recently ran a consultation about the future of which medicines should be available on prescription. NHS England has now published its guidance on this, and a letter explaining the changes is available here.

National Voices, our partners in the VCSE Health and Wellbeing Alliance, have issued a response to the changes. They are pleased that some of what they call the most potentially damaging aspects of the original draft guidance have been modified.

However, National Voices argue that the guidance still poses a threat to people living in financially vulnerable situations:

…the guidance issued today includes some welcome exemptions for people because of their health condition and social vulnerability.

However, the guidance still leaves gaps that some people could fall through if they rely on certain medications but can’t afford them.

“Many people are entitled to free prescriptions, and whilst some of those people may be able to pay, a significant number rely on free prescriptions because of their financially vulnerable situation. This guidance risks leaving people unable to afford medicines they rely on.

GPs must use their own medical judgement and work in partnership with their patients. They should continue to prescribe treatments to people who cannot afford to buy them over-the-counter.