Get your hay fever treatments from your pharmacy not your GP

Fylde coast residents are being reminded that they should buy medicines for summer related health complaints such as hay fever and bites and stings over the counter instead of going to their GP.

The hay fever season is worst for sufferers between late May and July. At this time of year demand for prescriptions for simple antihistamines always increases but GPs across the Fylde coast will not routinely offer them unless there is a real clinical need. NHS Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) stopped the prescription of antihistamines for hay fever in 2016 following overwhelming agreement from the public that the cost to the NHS for the medicines was high compared to buying them over the counter. NHS Fylde and Wyre CCG  is to introduce the same approach from 1 July as part of its new policy on over the counter medication.

Things like hay fever medication and paracetamol can be bought for less than a pound in community pharmacies or supermarkets but a prescription for the tablets can cost the NHS almost £10 including administration fees. At a time when every penny counts in the NHS such costs are not justifiable.

Visiting a local community pharmacy is your best option. You can speak to the pharmacist who is an expert in medications and can advise you on the best treatment. They can also offer advice on how to avoid hay fever triggers. If the pharmacist feels that the problem is something different which might require a review with a GP, they will recommend this.

Speaking on behalf of the two CCGs Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a Blackpool GP and clinical advisor for the NHS Blackpool CCG said: “We have to make the most of the funding available to us so obviously there are some things we have to cut back on. Fortunately, although it’s very irritating hay fever isn’t serious and there are things people can do to help themselves. Antihistamines are relatively cheap to buy from your local community pharmacist or supermarket.”

The NHS also advises putting Vaseline around your nostrils to trap pollen, wearing wraparound sunglasses to stop pollen getting into your eyes and changing your clothes when you’ve been outside. You don’t need to go to your GP. More information on dealing with hay fever can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/hay-fever/