A senior Town Hall figure says that he is “appalled” that Croydon’s NHS has asked the borough’s doctors to stop giving prescriptions for minor ailments.
The move follows guidance from NHS England on those health conditions that should now be treated by the patient through “self care”, and not by a doctor.
Conditions for which GP care will be denied and prescriptions will be withheld include acute sore throat, infant colic, oral thrush, cradle cap, adult diarrhoea, mild cystitis and threadworms.
The cost to the NHS of prescriptions for minor ailments in Croydon last year was £2,542,864.
Croydon NHS thinks that there are savings to be made from getting patients to by-pass their GPs and going straight to Boot’s instead.
In an email sent yesterday Dr Angelo Fernandes, the chair of NHS Croydon’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), emphasised in bold letters that the stop to prescriptions applied to those entitled to free prescriptions.
“Please note: patients who receive free prescriptions are not automatically exempt,” Dr Fernandes wrote. In future, those on free prescriptions in Croydon will need to pay up at the pharmacist.
Free prescriptions are usually available to, among others, those over 60, those under 18 and in education, and some of those on universal credit (if or when it ever arrives).
Those on benefits will now face a choice on whether to pay the rent, pay the heating bills or buy medicine to recover from so-called “minor” debilitating illness.
On social media yesterday, Andrew Pelling, the Croydon Labour councillor and member of the council’s health scrutiny committee, said he was “appalled”.
“Appalled that Croydon NHS CCG say that the poor can go without medicine so as to meet government cuts,” Pelling wrote.
“I hope that GPs will try to resist this.”
This is not the first time that Croydon CCG has attempted to reduce its spending on the health of the borough’s residents by reducing prescriptions and treatments. Two years ago, Croydon CCG sought to remove baby milk powder from the products to be made available on prescription, a decision which – after being highlighted by Inside Croydon – was eventually reversed.
But another medical service, the provision of IVF treatment for families struggling to have children, was stopped, making Croydon one of the few areas in the country not to provide any IVF therapy at all.
The latest round of cuts risk seeing Croydon’s destitute having their diarrheoa and threadworms left untreated, with all the negative public health impacts that brings.
There’s a chance, too, that more serious illnesses will go undiagnosed and the chance for early interventions lost.
“The Croydon NHS request to GPs that various ailments not be treated will lead to more serious illnesses not being diagnosed, as patients become reluctant to trouble their doctor under the new regime,” Pelling said.
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