Paracetamol, ibuprofen, vitamin supplements and indigestion remedies are among the items Bucks residents have been urged to buy over the counter, rather than request from a doctor, as the NHS desperately tries to make savings.

Figures show the NHS spends £1,610,952 in Bucks on prescribing items that are readily available pharmacies – which could have funded 40 nurses, 11,364 MRI scans or 7,895 general hospital appointments.

The NHS is now asking people to buy such products over the counter, if possible, so more money can be spent on other vital services “that will have greater benefit to the Bucks population”.

Dr Shona Lockie, from Bucks CCG, said: “Whilst we know that some patients genuinely need these medicines in regular quantities for long term conditions and they will continue to be able to have them prescribed; a lot of these medicines are available to buy over the counter from your local pharmacy often at a lower cost than would be incurred by the NHS.

“So we are adopting national guidance for our local GPs which we hope will reduce our spend on around 35 different medicines and treatments for minor conditions and ailments that are usually self-limiting or which lend themselves to self-care.

“We hope that we can free up resources which can be used for other, higher priority areas that have a greater impact for patients and help to ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.”

People are advised to speak to their pharmacist about minor problems, such as colds and mild eczema, while patients who regularly use the drugs, or fall into an exception category, will continue to receive prescriptions.

Over the counter medicines available in pharmacies or supermarkets include:

• Vitamins

• Antihistamines and product for hayfever

• Paracetamol and ibuprofen

• Cough and cold remedies

• Eyes drops for dry eyes

• Cream for dry skin

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