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Choosing wisely - changing the way we prescribe

The NHS in North West London is asking the public their views on Choosing Wisely, a new scheme to help reduce waste. Doctors in the area have been looking at how we prescribe medicines and have come up with three proposals which will help reduce waste and give patients more control over their repeat prescriptions.

Choosing Wisely

Changing the way we prescribe

Proposal 1: GPs will ask patients if they are willing to buy certain medicines or products which can be bought without a prescription.

We are proposing that it would be reasonable for most patients to buy the medicines and products on the list below over the counter without a prescription. Under the proposal GPs will ask patients if they are willing to buy these medicines and products because they are now widely available and, in most cases, available at a very affordable price.

Proposal 2: GPs will not routinely prescribe the medicines and products listed below which can be bought without a prescription.

We are asking GPs in North West London if they can think of any good medical reasons for prescribing a number of medicines that can be bought without a prescription.

We are inviting local residents, including elected representatives and our own GP membership, to talk to us about these plans. For example, if you feel any items should be added to or removed from the list, or if you feel that any additional patient demographic should be exempt from the proposal, we would like to hear from you.

(A full list of medicines and products impacted, as well as contact details for people to share their comments, can all be found on our engagement site.)

Giving patients control over their own repeat prescriptions

Proposal 3: Ask patients to order their own repeat prescriptions where possible

As well as changing the way we prescribe, we are proposing to reform the repeat prescriptions system by asking patients to order their own. GPs would only accept requests for repeat prescriptions from the small number of patients unable to order for themselves (or with the help of a friend or carer).

Not only will this save money, but it will be safer, because when too many medicines are ordered, they sit unused, which can be dangerous.

Dr Ian Goodman, Chair of Hillingdon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and clinical lead for the scheme said: “We think it makes sense to prescribe less of certain medicines and products that you can buy on the high street without a prescription. We’re asking patients, GPs, and other stakeholders to let us know what they think of our proposals.

“With regard to repeat prescriptions, the NHS can’t afford to waste money on medicines that people don’t need or don’t intend to take. We are giving patients control over their own repeat prescriptions because it will be a more efficient, safer way of working. 

“We are reminding GPs to consider the clinical need carefully when prescribing any of the items on this list. If there is a clinical need for a prescription, or if the patient is unable to afford the medicine or product, then they will still, of course, be prescribed as usual.”