Patients will no longer receive prescriptions, for minor conditions, if the medication is readily available over-the-counter (OTC) in pharmacies or supermarkets.
Instead, from 29 January 2024, they will be advised which treatments or medication to purchase by their GP, Nurse or Community Pharmacist.
This will primarily affect medications such as paracetamol, throat lozenges or vitamins, and conditions such as cystitis or dandruff. These items are often cheaper to buy directly when compared to the cost of a prescription.
The current cost of a prescription is £3.85 per item, compared to boxes of paracetamol that are available for less than £1 over the counter.
This new prescribing policy from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) applies to medications being used for conditions that would ordinarily clear up without treatment or for minor conditions that are appropriate for treatment at home.
Any patients using OTC medications as part of the management or treatment of a more long-term condition will continue to receive it on prescription.
Signposting patients to their local Community Pharmacist for guidance and advice around minor conditions should make it easier and quicker for them to get the advice they need. It will help reduce the number of GP appointments used for the assessment of minor conditions, ensuring more vulnerable patients can be seen in a timely manner.
Minister for Health and Social Care Lawrie Hooper MHK said:
'This policy is a step in the right direction to ensure we're providing an efficient, accessible and sustainable service – and that we're using our resources effectively. I'd encourage everyone to make better use of the wealth of experience and advice available to us all at our local community pharmacies and other services available in the community.'
Manx Care has developed guidance for patients, and for clinicians to help signpost accordingly.
Maria Bell, Pharmaceutical Adviser for Manx Care, said:
'We hope that this will build upon the wider awareness campaign to help the public make greater use of existing Community Pharmacy services on the Island. These changes support the strategic plan for Health and Social Care, aspiring to ensure that people receive the right care, at the right time, and in the right place. We would like to reassure patients that Pharmacists will always advise those with more concerning or serious symptoms ("red flag symptoms") to access more appropriate and urgent care. Additionally, if symptoms are not improving or responding to treatment, patients will be encouraged to seek further advice.'