In-debt Tayside NHS board cuts paracetamol prescriptions to save cash

CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Sunday Post

A crisis-hit health board is to stop prescribing headache tablets in a bid to save cash, The Sunday Post reports.

NHS Tayside has banned one-off prescriptions for paracetamol and ibuprofen as managers attempt to plug a projected £44.1m shortfall this year.

Bosses hope the move, along with other cuts including axing all homeopathy services, will save up to £2.5m a year.

Earlier this month, health secretary Shona Robison said she was not confident the leadership was capable of managing its own finances.

Chief executive Lesley McLay has been replaced but remains on sick leave. The Scottish government has already loaned the board £33.2m.

Miles Briggs MSP, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said: “NHS Tayside is going to need to find a lot of paracetamol to ban if it’s going to make any dent on its finances.

“This health board needs a root and branch review of its finances, not miniscule shortcuts. The fact boards are now having to take such measures demonstrates just how desperate the situation has become.”

NHS Tayside spends more than £1m every year prescribing everyday drugs such as paracetamol.

Cutting homeopathic medicine prescriptions is expected to save £30,000 a year.

Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, said: “NHS Tayside must be careful to strike the balance between giving people the medication they need and ensuring that they take the practical steps needed to balance the books.”

Meanwhile, a Tayside board member has criticised the Scottish government for not giving the NHS enough money.

Dr Andrew Cowie, a GP in Dundee, is recorded in board meeting minutes as saying that “the current level of funding from Scottish government was inappropriate.” A NHS Tayside spokeswoman said: “There are no plans to stop prescribing ibuprofen or paracetamol in primary care where they are felt to be clinically appropriate.

“These medications are readily available over the counter in supermarkets and community pharmacies at very low cost.

“When they are only required in very small numbers and for a short period of time, it is not necessary to see a GP to request a prescription.”

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