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Paracetamol

Find out about our new guidance on the prescribing of paracetamol.

Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are the organisations responsible for planning and buying most health services needed by a population. This includes paying for any prescriptions.

It is the responsibility of CCGs to spend their budget as wisely as possible, on behalf of the entire population, so that everyone can receive a reasonable level of care. As part of this, CCGs regularly review how the prescription budget is being spent and whether it is been used in the best way.

Leicester City CCG has developed some guidance for GPs, and other health professionals that are trained to be able to write prescriptions, to help them make decisions about whether patients should be given prescriptions for paracetamol.

The guidance advises against prescribing paracetamol for short term illnesses, such as coughs and colds.

This does not apply to patients who use large volumes of paracetamol for the management of chronic pain and long term conditions or paracetamol combination products such as co-codamol 30/500.

The NHS belongs to everybody and the CCGs must ensure that their resources are used in the best possible way for all patients. Paracetamol tablets and liquid can be bought easily and cheaply from pharmacies and supermarkets ,for as little as 20p. It costs the NHS around four times as much to provide paracetamol on prescription as it does to buy it over the counter.

We are therefore asking patients not to request paracetamol on prescription from their GP, unless required for chronic pain management, and to purchase it instead. We think this way is a fair way of using resources wisely as. Results from a recent public survey shows that the vast majority of people agree.

This guidance is effective from 1st April 2017

In Leicester City, the NHS spends around £500,00 on prescriptions for paracetamol each year. This is the equivalent of:

  • 38 drug treatment cures for cancer
  • 33 community nurses
  • 145 hip replacements
  • 949 drug treatment courses for Alzheimer’s
  • 1114 cataract operations

You can read more about the new guidance in our frequently asked questions leaflet.

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