CCGs are asking for national support to release up to £400m of NHS spending to use in high priority areas such as mental health and primary care rather than spending it on products and medicines currently available on prescriptions which offer no or limited clinical benefit to patients or could otherwise be considered as lower priority for NHS funding.
“We need to be honest with the population – the NHS can and does provide high quality cost effective care, but our ability to continue to do so will be restricted if we can’t prioritise those areas which will get the best outcomes for patients, whilst getting the best value for our limited NHS budget.
“The medicines spend is one where there is huge potential to unlock resources and redirect them to those higher priority areas like mental health and primary care. Through doing this we can deliver better outcomes for patients. The principles of this work will also support the much needed long term transformation of the NHS.
“We have identified an initial £128m worth of products to kick off those discussions with the aim of agreeing that CCGs can begin to reduce their spending on these at a national level. With that national level support there is more that we can do. We know that CCGs are keen to explore other products that promote the self-care agenda and where there are even more significant sums of money that could be released and used more effectively and efficiently for our patients and local populations.
“Clinical commissioners have always had to make difficult choices about prioritising how they spend their budget on services, but the finance and demand challenges we face at the moment are unprecedented. CCGs have been looking at their medicines spend, and many are already implementing policies to reduce spending on those prescribe-able items that have little or no clinical value for patients, and are therefore not an effective use of the NHS pound.
“The medicines spend is over £15bn and as such is the second largest spend after staffing costs and across England CCGs are currently spending up to £400m on prescribe-able products that could potentially be better spent on other NHS services. NHSCC, with our members, has determined a number of categories and characteristics to help define those potential items of low priority for NHS funding, and through this work have identified 10 products which in the first instance could release up to £128m – these categories / characteristics includes:
“This is not about cutting essential services or restricting access for patients to services they need, it is about allowing local clinical leaders to make the best and most efficient use of the money CCGs have available to spend in really challenging circumstances. Having national support from NHS England and the DH for those local decisions means there will be more consistency and reduce variation for patients.”
First 10 products to be considered as low priority for NHS funding
NHSCC has developed a number of categories or characteristics to help define potential items of low priority for NHS funding (some items potentially falling into more than one category) and have worked closely with NHS England to agree a first phase list of products.
The first phase is to look at items that our members consider to be of the lowest priority for funding in categories 1, 2 and 3 with a total spend £128.02m (spend figures based on information from the last 12 months). These are as follows:
We know that CCGs are keen to explore other products, such as those for upset stomach, antihistamines, suncream, cough and cold remedies, heartburn and indigestion products, that sit within the self-care agenda where we believe a significant sum of money could be released.
There will be a need for flexibility in any local decision making to allow for individual patient needs to be taken in to consideration.
28 March 2017