NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens removes gluten-free food and medication for upset stomachs and haemorrhoids from list of prescribed items.
The NHS is to stop giving patients travel vaccinations, gluten-free foods and some drugs that can be bought over the counter in an effort to rescue its ailing finances.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, announced the changes in an interview with the Daily Mail in which he detailed new efforts to get better value for money so that money saved could instead be spent on promising therapies that have recently been developed.
GPs will be told to not prescribe medications such as those for upset stomachs, travel sickness and haemorrhoids in a new drive to eliminate waste from the NHS’s £120bn annual budget.
Stevens said: “We’ve got to tackle some of the waste which is still in the system. The NHS is a very efficient health service but like every country’s health service there is inefficiency and waste.
“There’s £114m being spent on medicine for upset tummies, haemorrhoids, travel sickness, indigestion, [and] and that’s before you get to the £22m-plus on gluten-free that you can also now get at Morrison’s, Lidl or Tescos.
“Part of what we are trying to do is make sure that we make enough headroom to spend money on innovative new drugs by not wasting it on these kind of items.”
Next month, NHS England will start reviewing 10 items which it says are “ineffective, unnecessary [and] inappropriate for prescription on the NHS, or indeed unsafe”, which together cost the service £128m a year. The Department of Health is expected to then issue new guidance advising GPs that they are not prescribed.