In March 2018 NHS England and NHS clinical commissioners ran a national consultation about a number of health conditions, that have medicines that are available to buy over the counter.
To support this national consultation we did our own outreach work to understand how the proposals could impact on local people.
Birmingham is rated as one of the most deprived cities in the UK, and certain wards within Birmingham such as Ladywood are rated as some of the worst for child poverty. Child poverty – means those in a family living on less than 60% of median household income.
Due to the proposals of this consultation being that individuals would have to purchase rather than be prescribed some medicines, the communications and engagement team, with the medicines management team took a targeted approach to engaging with people within our area: vulnerable, low-income families.
In order to target our most vulnerable individuals we decided to link with local food banks. They were extremely helpful and facilitated us visiting the venues when the food banks were open - and when clients were at the food banks to collect food parcels.
We collated all of what we heard and submitted this into the national consultation run by NHS England.
In conclusion the key points we heard were:
- It is acceptable for people to pay for very low cost items – probably less than £2/3
- It shouldn’t be implemented for the most vulnerable e.g. homeless, parents with little-to-no money/income etc
- There should be information (supported by a campaign) developed to advise people of changes and advise of symptoms and where to buy medicines and rough costs
- GPs need to be supported to say ‘no’, and also have the discretion to say ‘yes’ to those who really need.
You can read the policy and find out more here.