People in Norfolk and Waveney are being urged to make the most of the skills and expertise of their local pharmacist to help save the NHS money.
The rally cry comes as part of the ongoing ‘Your Medicines, Your NHS’ campaign, which aims to reduce medicine waste which currently costs around £4.7m* in
Norfolk and Waveney each year.
The latest phase urges patients to ‘ask your pharmacist’ for advice on a range of common illnesses instead of booking an appointment with their GP. It also encourages people to buy medicines such as ibuprofen and paracetamol over the counter rather than asking for or accepting a prescription, in turn saving money which the NHS can reinvest in health services elsewhere.
The campaign has been organised by Norfolk and Waveney’s five clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) – Great Yarmouth and Waveney, North Norfolk, West Norfolk, Norwich and South Norfolk.
Michael Dennis, head of medicines optimisation with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “Over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can cost the NHS up to 50 times more if it’s prescribed*. As the NHS is funded by taxes, this means that every time medicine is prescribed unnecessarily, money is wasted and savings have to be made elsewhere.
“We’re asking people to buy their own medicines over the counter wherever possible, rather than asking for a prescription. If everyone does their bit to save money, it will help scarce NHS resources to go further.
“It’s also important to remember that pharmacists are highly-trained medical professionals who can offer help and advice about a huge range of common illnesses in just a matter of minutes. By speaking to them first, you could save yourself a visit to your GP and help free up appointments for other patients.
“Doing your bit is simple, so please help your NHS to cut back on waste so that it can make the best use of its resources for the benefit of everyone in
Norfolk and Waveney.”
Ian Small, head of medicines management for the Norfolk CCGs, said: “Pharmacists are at the frontline of the NHS and can offer a huge range of help and advice on minor illnesses and injuries, such as coughs, colds, sore throats and infections.
“We would encourage anyone who needs help with common ailments to make their pharmacy the first port of call and get expert health and advice in a matter of minutes without an appointment.”
Tony Dean, chief officer of the Norfolk Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said: “Community pharmacists are highly trained and skilled at assessing if they are able to deal with a condition or if it requires onward referral. We welcome that this role is being highlighted in Norfolk.
“As we come up to the festive period, all medical services will be under massive pressure. We’d encourage patients to take the responsibility to make sure they have sufficient prescribed medication (but please only order what you really need), and perhaps consider having an appropriate small supply of basic medicines and first aid materials to treat some minor conditions safely stored in the home.”
You can find out more by visiting www.greatyarmouthandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk and clicking on the links from the homepage. Alternatively, you can follow the campaign on Twitter @YourMED_YourNHS and use the hashtags #askyourpharmacist and #yourmedicines.