Private prescriptions had previously been offered to NHS patients where an item is not available on the NHS, or may be cheaper than if it were prescribed on an NHS prescription (FP10). Under these circumstances a charge would still be made for the private prescription, although this was often less than the standard NHS prescription charge.
With immediate effect and following advice from the Medicines Optimisation Team, The Grange Medical Centre will no longer be offering private prescriptions to our patients, as the service deprives the NHS of much needed funding. The exemption is for medication that is not currently available on an NHS prescription.
Medicines (with a few exceptions) will also be prescribed by their generic name unless there are individual patient circumstances dictating why a branded product should be prescribed. Again this is to help reduce the massive NHS prescription overspend.
Generic branded medications have the exact same ingredients as their branded counterparts, but cost the NHS significantly less, and again this all contributes to reducing the NHS budget deficit.
NHS policy recommends that when a generic medicine is used and a patient requests the branded equivalent, a private prescription cannot be issued if the patient is being treated within the NHS, unless the product cannot be prescribed on the NHS.
The issuing of a branded product is not prohibited, but could be considered an example of inappropriate or excessive prescribing in the case of routine prescribing of expensive brands.
In the past GP’s have been advised that they could issue both an NHS FP10 prescription and a private prescription, and let the patient decide which to use, but recent legal advice has said that under their contract, GPs in England may not issue a private prescription alongside or as an alternative to an NHS FP10 prescription. In any consultation where a GP needs to issue an FP10, the concurrent issue of a private prescription would be a clear breach of NHS regulations.
The issue of private prescriptions in such circumstances could also be seen as an attempt to deprive the NHS of the funds it would receive from the prescription charge.
Furthermore, for private prescriptions the pharmacist is free to add an additional dispensing fee onto the original cost of the drug, and so the patient may actually end up paying the same or even more than the NHS charge for their private prescription.
Clinicians are still well within their rights to suggest to patients that certain medications may in fact be cheaper to buy over the counter rather than on prescription.