21 July 2017

Safe, Sensible Measures to Reduce NHS Prescription Costs Should Be Encouraged, Says RCGP

Responding to NHS England's announcement today on low-value medicines, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“Our population is growing and ageing, and our patients’ needs are changing rapidly, so we are already thinking about different ways of working - and that means looking right across the health service. The College is keen to work with NHS England and equivalent bodies in the devolved nations to make this a success.

"Prescription costs are a significant expense for the health service, and so if we can take safe, sensible measures to reduce these costs then we should.

“We know that a number of treatments are of little or no value, and are at best a placebo. We also know many other medications are available very cheaply over the counter and are much more readily obtainable than when they first became available on prescription, and both GPs and the public should be mindful of this.

"If patients are in a position that they can afford to buy over the counter medicines and products, then we would encourage them to do so rather than request a prescription – but imposing blanket policies on GPs, that don’t take into account demographic differences across the country, or that don’t allow for flexibility for a patient’s individual circumstances, risks alienating the most vulnerable in society.

“NHS England assure us that this won't be the case, but whatever cost saving measures are floated, it remains paramount that NHSE’s GP Forward View, which pledges £2.4bn extra a year for general practice and 5000 more GPs by 2020, is implemented as a matter of urgency."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.