The consultation covers eight items that NHS England said were ‘of relatively low clinical effectiveness, which are clinically effective but where more cost-effective items are available, or which are clinically effective but, due to the nature of the item, are deemed a low priority for NHS funding’. The items are:
- Silk garments
- Bath and shower emollient preparations
- Minocycline for acne
- Blood glucose testing strips
- Needles for pre-filled and reusable insulin pens – proposed recommendations are focused on substitution for more cost-effective products rather than a reduction in prescribing of these items.
At its board meeting yesterday, NHS England also approved new guidance aimed at limiting prescribing of gluten-free products. Amendments to NHS prescribing regulations, which are due to come into force on 4 December, mean that GPs will only be able to prescribe gluten-free bread and baking mixes. They will no longer be able to issue prescriptions for other gluten-free products like cakes and biscuits.
However, NHS England's new guidance, which will be published on 4 December, says that CCGs can introduce further restrictions by allowing prescribing of bread only, mixes only or choosing 'to end prescribing of all gluten-free foods if they feel this is appropriate for their population'.
The 'low priority' items consultation is recommending that in patients with type II diabetes GPs should not prescribe any blood glucose testing strips that cost more than £10 for 50. GPs should also no longer prescribe bath or shower emollients and instead prescribe a 'leave on' preparation, the consultation suggests.
NHS England said that restricting prescribing of the eight items would save the NHS almost £70m a year. The consultation will run until 28 February.
The proposal follows moves earlier this year to restrict GPs prescribing OTC medicines for 35 minor ailments and short-term self-limiting illnesses. Last year, NHS England also said GPs should no longer prescribe 18 other ‘low value treatments’, which included fish oil, herbal remedies and homeopathy.