NHS crackdown on “low value” medicines

SMP Healthcare

NHS England confirmed they will be completing a review of low value prescription items from 1st April 2017 and implementing new guidance for clinical commissioning groups with a view to saving NHS spending in this area. The review comes following extensive work by NHS clinical commissioners that identified significant areas where potential savings can be made.  The savings could potentially reach a massive £400m per year.

The review will look to address the growing concerns over the justification of many low value prescriptions that currently absorb millions of the NHS funding every year.

To be able to develop the guidelines, NHS England will work alongside clinicians and clinical commissioning groups initially looking at a set of 10 medicines which are either ineffective, unnecessary or inappropriate for prescription on the NHS or are unsafe.

With the financial challenges faced by the NHS, further work will consider other medicines that are of relatively low clinical value or priority or are available “over the counter”. In some instances the cost would be far lower when considering treatments for coughs and colds, antihistamines, indigestion and heartburn medication and sun cream.

NHS England have confirmed they will apply careful consideration to ensure that certain groups of people are not disproportionately affected.

For full information on the report from the 28th March 2017, we have provided a link to the NHS England website where the report can be found.


Nick Triggle also provided an in depth article for the BBC on the NHS England crackdown and provides statistics as to the low value prescription items and the cost to the NHS. Within the figures it is confirmed that there was a cost of £21.88m on gluten-free foods alone.  For a full run down of the medicines that will initially be investigated, have a look at the link below: