QUIZ: NHS scraps prescription painkiller and cough medicine

Certain drugs and other items may be taken off the list of those available on prescription form the NHS.
Certain drugs and other items may be taken off the list of those available on prescription form the NHS.

Doctors may stop giving out omega-3 oils and travel vaccinations on prescription in a bid to save £120m.

The health service is entering a review to cut a list of drugs for patients including painkillers and haemorrhoid treatment, and other items which patients can currently be prescribed by doctors but are said to waste hundreds of millions a year.

The move would save around £128million - equivalent to 0.1 per cent of the service's annual budget

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said: “We’ve got to tackle some of the waste which is still in the system. The NHS is a very efficient health service but like every country’s health service there is inefficiency and waste.

“There’s £114m being spent on medicine for upset tummies, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion, [and] and that’s before you get to the £22m-plus on gluten-free that you can also now get at Morrisons, Lidl or Tescos.

“Part of what we are trying to do is make sure that we make enough headroom to spend money on innovative new drugs by not wasting it on these kind of items.”

The most common prescriptions in the UK are for statins, which control cholesterol, thyroid treatments, paracetamol and blood-pressure medicines. This compares to twenty years ago when the list was dominated by painkillers and antibiotics.

The list of prescriptions includes:

- Omega 3 and fish oils

- The painkiller fentanyl

- Lidocaine medicated plasters

- doxazosin MR - a tablet used to treat high blood pressure

- gluten-free foods

- cough treatments