First They Came For The Gluten-Free Food On Prescription…

…and taxpayers cheered, and said ‘More, more! Cut deeper!’. And lo, it came to pass:

NHS England is proposing to cut free prescriptions for over-the-counter remedies such as dandruff shampoo, eye drops and indigestion tablets in an effort to make up a shortfall in its funding.

Yup, things you can buy in Boots, all major supermarkets and even your local newsagent are being provided on prescription. At inflated cost, naturally.

Promoting the idea, NHS England revealed that it currently spends £4.5m a year on dandruff shampoos – a sum that would fund 1,200 hip replacements. It said 300 community nurses could be funded from the £7.5m spent on treatments for indigestion and heartburn.

It’s a gaping hole in NHS finances, and it needs to stop.

The Patients Association said the plans would unnecessarily worry many vulnerable people in the run-up to Christmas.

Really? Why?

Its chief executive, Rachel Power, said the proposals threatened to change the relationship between GPs and patients.

If there’s any such ‘relationship’, it’s a bloody abusive one!

I spent most of the morning of the 21st December driving my mother around, first to a walk in clinic because she couldn’t get the cream she needed for her contact dermatitis without prescription, and she couldn’t get a prescription without a GP appointment they didn’t have until the next week, then home again because they couldn’t give her a prescription either, as she’d had one from them before (the last time when she couldn’t get a GP appointment) so it would count as a ‘repeat’, and we then had to wait for an appointment with an out of hours GP, which we couldn’t even phone for until 2pm when the lines opened.

We finally got her prescription – after phoning the number from 2pm on the dot every 2-3 minutes on redial, because it was continually engaged, we got through at 3:25, were kept on hold for another 15-20 minutes, then given an 8:15 appointment to see a doctor at yet another walk in clinic.

The hallowed ‘consultation’ took less than a minute. All to serve the Byzantine bureaucracy the NHS shrouds itself in.

“GPs will be asked to implement guidance involving a complex set of criteria and exceptions,” she said.

You mean, they’ll be asked to do they job they supposedly train for years for? Well, pardon me if I don’t join in the weep-fest here.

Mistakes are bound to happen, and for some patients a GP appointment will come to feel more like a benefits assessment, where they wait to find out at the end whether they will receive support or not – and sadly we know there are major shortcomings with that system.”

So there’ll be no safety net for genuine cases, then?

Items prescribed for longer-term or more complex conditions would not be affected, and nor would prescriptions for minor illnesses symptomatic of something more serious, NHS England said.

Ah! So, there will be – those who genuinely need them on prescription for sound medical reason will continue to get them.

And the rest of the lazy entitled benefit-sponges will have to buy them in Sainsbury’s, like everyone else.

H/T: HandofGod via Twitter

11 comments for “First They Came For The Gluten-Free Food On Prescription…

  1. Anon
    January 19, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I know someone who had an ovarian cyst and the GP not only failed but told her to get on prescription (which she had to pay for) ibuprofen that cost 30 p in boots.

    Even worse I know a translator and she sometimes translates for people who want to get calpol for their kids on free prescription. So it takes 20 minutes of a GP time, cost of translation etc to save them £3 in boots!

  2. Mudplugger
    January 19, 2018 at 11:52 am

    My close contact in the GP surgery tells me of those on ‘free’ prescriptions (kids, elderly, welfare etc.) taking up appointments to get a prescription for Paracetamol, which cost 19p in the supermarket but probably cost the NHS £50 – £100 to supply, taking account of all the processes. It’s considered to be an ‘entitlement’ under the sacred-cow mantra of ‘free at the point of need’.

    Until there is a charge for everyone for anything, however modest, then there will be no disincentive against such abuse of the system. But some sacred-cows need slaughtering first and which politician has the knife (or the balls) to do that?

    • John in cheshire
      January 19, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      I agree with you. I also think a visit to the doctor should carry a cost, even if it’s say £5 per visit. We have to pay for a dental check up, and no one whines about that.

      • Bemused
        January 19, 2018 at 2:11 pm

        Dental check-ups are “free” in Scotland as are all prescriptions. The waste is enormous, as I recall, when we paid for prescriptions you would only visit the doctor if really needed and you would finish every course of treatment, every last pill and squeeze every last drop out of a tube of ointment. Now? If my own adult family are any measure, waste what you want and get more.
        I would like to see the statistics on prescriptions per capita over the last 50 years.

      • Errol
        January 19, 2018 at 3:33 pm

        I do. I complain about everything.

    • Errol
      January 19, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      I’m mugged for my prescriptions. I have about 3 I take and that’s £24, soon to be £27. I already pay extortionate amounts of tax. I’m sick of continuing the pay for everyone else.

      • Pcar
        January 19, 2018 at 8:55 pm


        Annual pass

      • Mudplugger
        January 19, 2018 at 9:00 pm

        You’re in a minority – more than 90% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge, the exemptions are so wide.

        Chances are the internal payment management system costs more to operate than if the remaining 10% were also free – or, better still, charge everyone a quid or two each time, thus eliminating abuse at limited cost (or is that too logical for them?).

  3. Rational anarchist
    January 19, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Just FYI, we had a similar issue regarding finding someone to prescribe. We eventually tried one of the online Doctor services. The wait time was about 4 minutes and it cost around £20 to get a prescription, saving us lots of time. We’ll worth it

  4. Pcar
    January 19, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    …implement guidance involving a complex set of criteria and exceptions…

    Says it all – bureaucracy gone mad.


    1. Stop classing so many things as POM eg 400mg Ibuprofen, Toothpaste >x% fluoride, Flu vaccine…..

    2. Stop providing prescriptions for items which can be purchased in corner-shop/supermarket – if patient is genuinely “poor/vulnerable” GP gives patient 50p, £1, £2 & monthly electronic invoice to DoH


  5. January 20, 2018 at 5:59 am

    “If there’s any such ‘relationship’, it’s a bloody abusive one!”

    Or one which ignores the patient altogether. I’ve never met my supposed “GP”. One might have thought a heart attack a serious enough condition but no, not in the eyes of our practice.

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