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20 July 2017
Press release

Attitudes to medicine on prescription have changed

A survey carried out by local health commissioners has revealed that 96% of people are prepared to purchase medicine for minor conditions from the pharmacy, rather than expect to get it on prescription.

These results show how social attitudes on the role of GPs and what is expected on prescription have radically altered. 

Thirty three years ago tonic wine, Evian mineral water, Flora margarine, communion wafers, Nescafe instant coffee and Max Factor face powder were some of the items that were allowed on prescription. None of these items are allowed now and the survey results highlight that nowadays people have the confidence in their local pharmacist to seek help and advice for conditions that they would previously have seen their GP about.

Survey results include:

  • 91% believe that the pharmacist is a well-trained health professional who can help with minor conditions
  • 62% say that a pharmacist had helped them deal with a minor condition in the last year
  • 83% of those who are entitled to free prescription medicine say they feel they should buy any medicines that are available over-the-counter at the pharmacy
  • 79% feel they can easily identify which medicines they need at the pharmacy

Linda Lord, chief pharmacist, NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “These survey results are incredibly encouraging as they show that most people are aware of just how much help and advice is available from their local pharmacy. 

“No one nowadays expects to receive wine, coffee or face powder on prescription.  Today, many people recognise the changing role of the NHS as well as realizing that popping in to the pharmacy for advice and purchasing medicine for a minor health condition is far quicker and just as effective as making an appointment at the GP practice.”

Catherine Butler, head of GP prescribing,NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The role of the pharmacist in the community is far more prominent now than it ever has been. Previously, the first port of call would usually have been the GP surgery. Pharmacists now have the recognition they deserve – they are highly skilled health care professionals. 

“The survey endorses our belief that many people are making the appropriate choice in where to seek help when they are ill. However, in 2016/17 the NHS locally spent around £3.2 million on prescription medicine that could have been purchased from the pharmacy. We would encourage as many people as possible to use pharmacy services.”

Examples of medicines that can easily be purchased from a community pharmacy for minor conditions are:
Hay fever tablets, indigestion remedies, pain killers, moisturisers, rubs for muscle/ joint pain, treatments for diarrhoea, eye drops for dry eyes and vitamins. 

See list of items previously available on NHS prescription 

Read this informative Think Pharmacist leaflet

Issued by The Communications Team on 01473 770014

NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group – www.ipswichandeastsuffolkccg.nhs.uk
NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group – www.westsuffolkccg.nhs.uk

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