Column: Ideas around how to prescribe medicines

Ketan Sheth

Ketan Sheth - Credit: Archant

It seems a day doesn’t pass without another story in the papers or on TV about the funding crisis engulfing our NHS. Our most treasured possession is under pressure like never before and the local picture is no different.

We all have a responsibility to use it wisely, so I’ve been working closely with the local NHS to make sure that Brent residents can still expect the best outcomes.

One thing we have been looking at is how we prescribe medicines, and as a result the local NHS has developed two proposals.

The first is about reducing the waste associated with repeat prescriptions. The NHS wants patients or their carers to take control of their re-ordering. After all, who knows best about when you need more medicine than you or your carer.

Too many medicines at home can be dangerous as well as being a bad use of precious resources. So the NHS wants you to order your repeat prescriptions and order exactly what you need.

You’ll be able to order electronically online and even through your Smartphone - or through a paper slip for those who can’t get online.

The second proposal is about having the GP ask their patient if they would be willing to buy a medicine from their local chemist, rather than receive a prescription.

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The GP would only ask this if the medicine their patient needs is on a list of products that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription, e.g. laxatives, ibuprofen, or paracetamol.

This simple question could save our local health service significant sums of money.

Our community has been involved in the development of these proposals. Earlier in the summer, the NHS put them forward and asked the public as well as local doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and voluntary groups what they thought.

More than 1,200 people, professionals and organisations across North West London responded.

I have been clear that these proposals mustn’t impact on our most disadvantaged communities and the NHS has worked hard to ensure that won’t happen. An equality impact assessment was undertaken to identify which groups may be potentially disadvantaged by the proposals.

They are now doing more work to ensure we mitigate against any disadvantage. Once that work has been completed and the local health service here in Brent is content that it’s the right option for our community we will see a change.

The truth is that we face some difficult choices; we only have a finite budget to spend here in Brent.

If we don’t make the right choice when it comes to how medicines are prescribed or repeat prescriptions ordered, we may soon be forced to make the wrong choice when it comes to more vital services, services that our most vulnerable depend on.

My committee and I are determined that will not happen and we will continue working with the local health service to ensure they put the needs of our most vulnerable residents first, every time.