HEALTH AND WELLBEING: Getting ready for Christmas – What about your medication?

CHRISTMAS is nearly here and at our practice we’re all gearing up for the busy festive period ahead. Have you finished your shopping yet?

Throughout the year, I’ve had lots of conversations with my patients about buying over-the-counter medicines, rather than me prescribing it. The NHS in Rotherham spends £2.3million on medicines that you don’t need a prescription for and can be bought cheaper at a local shop.  

You can get common over-the-counter medicines at a low cost from your local shop or pharmacy. For example, paracetamol can be bought for as little as 19p for 60 tablets in the shops, which means for 100 tablets it would cost £1.19. On prescription this costs the NHS about £4. In Rotherham, we spend £555, 700 a year on prescribing paracetamol – this is the equivalent of over 2,200 ambulance trips! This certainly made me think twice. If you suffer from chronic pain and take paracetamol every day, then a prescription is necessary. But for occasional use, it’s very easy and cheap to buy locally.

Other medication including ibruprofen, vitamin D tablets and antihistamines can also be bought cheaper than through NHS prescription. As money becomes tighter in health services we need to think about where we spend our money to get the best value for everyone in Rotherham.

Are you someone who needs regular medication? Most of Rotherham’s GP practices will be closed for up to four days (Sat – Tues) in a row over the Christmas period due to way bank holidays falling after the weekend. So please, if you are on regular medication, check that you have what you need to see you through the festivities. If not, order a repeat prescription from your GP practice before Christmas Eve.

Season’s greetings to one and all. Keep warm and well, stay safe and please remember to keep an eye on any elderly neighbours, particularly if they are living on their own. Many are too proud to ask for help, but they may need it.