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In the year to June 2017, the NHS spent approximately £569 million on prescriptions for medicines for minor conditions, which could have been purchased over the counter from a pharmacy or other outlets such as petrol stations or supermarkets.

The cost to the NHS for many of the items used to treat minor conditions is often higher than the OTC price as there are hidden costs. For example, a pack of 12 anti-sickness tablets can be purchased for £2.18 from a pharmacy whereas the cost to the NHS is over £3.00 after including dispensing fees. The actual total cost is more than £35 when you include GP consultation and administration costs.

By reducing what we spend on treating conditions that are self-limiting or lend themselves to self-care, we will have more money to spend on high priority areas that have a greater impact for patients, to support improvements in services and to deliver transformation that will ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.

Every £1million saved on prescriptions for over the counter treatments could pay for:

 - 39 more community nurses;
- 270 more hip replacements;
- 66 more drug treatment courses for breast cancer;
- 1000 more drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s;
- 1040 more cataract operations; or
- 60,000 more GP appointments (excluding admin and practice staff time)

For more information on the 569 Millions Reasons why campaign


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