Help reduce waste in the NHS

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 Help reduce waste in the NHS

Local residents are starring in a campaign to help reduce waste in the NHS and raise awareness of what patients themselves can do to help the NHS to deliver effective services.

Patients from across Southend, Castle Point and Rochford volunteered to be part of the campaign to share views that they feel strongly about. Talking points include the amount of money wasted locally through unused medication, with advice to only order what is needed and to make sure residents understand what they are being prescribed. Other subject areas include the several thousand GP appointments each month in south east Essex where the patients fails to attend.  The campaign encourages patients to cancel appointments they no longer need so they can be made available to someone else. 

We are all responsible - how you can help

The NHS belongs to us all and we all need to do our bit. By working together, we can make sure NHS money is used to make health services better.




Medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can be about four times more expensive when prescribed on the NHS compared to when they are bought in pharmacies and supermarkets. Last year, prescriptions for paracetamol cost the NHS in south east Essex £362,000.

Other items that can be bought over-the-counter instead of via an NHS prescription include:

  • Cough and cold remedies
  • Antihistamines (used to treat allergic
  • health conditions)
  • Nasal sprays
  • Indigestion remedies
  • Dandruff remedies
  • Head lice remedies
  • Haemorrhoids (piles) medication
  • Teething remedies

We all have an individual responsibility to look after ourselves, improve our physical and mental wellbeing and change how we use NHS services. This is why, when you only need items now and again, it is better to buy over the counter for pennies instead.

Simon Williams, Associate Director of Medicines Management for the NHS in south east Essex, said: “Some medications cost the NHS significantly more to prescribe than they would to buy over the counter.  Each prescription costs around £8 in administration fees to process plus the cost of the drug to the NHS. 

“The cost to the NHS of a patient seeing a GP and using the prescription service to obtain a medicine is very high. By comparison, the cost to a patient of seeing their pharmacist and buying the same medication over the counter is often very low.”

Here is a helpful guide on how long you can expect your symptoms to last, what you can do to get better and the warning signs to look out for which mean you may need to seek professional help

Don't let your medicines pile up!

If you have regular medicines of repeat prescription, it can be tempting to order the same items every time 'just in case' - a quick check in your medicine cabinet is all it takes to avoid a lot of waste.

Wasted prescription medicines cost the NHS around £300m each year - that's a lot of medicines being prescribed for patients but not taken. Don't forget to let your pharmacy know if you're getting too much of your regular medicines and take any unused or out-of-date medicines back to them to be disposed of safely.

  • are you regularly taking prescription medicines?
  • are you taking medicine for a long term illness (like asthma, arthritis, diabetes or epilepsy)?
  • are you taking hospital-prescribed medicines, or have you come out of hospital lately?
  • have there been major changes to your medicines recently?
Lots of us take medicines, and some people worry about them. If you have concerns about your medicines then speak to your pharmacist, doctor or nurse.


Medication reviews

A medication review is a meeting about your medicines, with an expert – a pharmacist, doctor or nurse.  There may be changes you want to suggest, worries that are bothering you or questions that you want answered and the person you meet with may also have changes or questions to raise with you. The meeting is free.

The NHS recommends that all older people, and many others, have regular reviews of their medicines. You don’t have to pay and it could end up improving your health, saving the NHS money, if you find you need fewer medicines than before. 

If you no longer need an appointment, cancel it

Missed appointments are estimated to cost the NHS about £160m per year. Aside from the cost, cancelling an appointment you no longer need will free it up for someone else who may be in urgent need.

Many GP practices offer online services to make it easier to book and cancel appointments, without having to wait on the phone to speak to your GP surgery. Some practices also offer a service which allows you to cancel an appointment by text. Ask at your GP practice for more information about this, as well as how you can register for online services.



Make the most of online services

GP online services allow you to access a range of services via your computer or mobile. Once you have signed up, you will be able to:

  • book or cancel appointments online with a GP or nurse
  • renew or order repeat prescriptions online
  • view parts of your GP health record, including information about medication, allergies, vaccinations, previous illnesses and test results

The service is free. Everyone who is registered with a GP can have access to their practice's online services.

Online services are offered in addition to more traditional face-to-face and telephone ways in which patients interact with their GP practice.

Follow us on Twitter and 'like' our page on Facebook to see the next stage of the campaign - a series of short videos starring local residents with their messages about using the NHS wisely.

Public views sought on changes to healthcare

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PEOPLE living in Castle Point, Rochford and Southend-on-Sea are being asked for their views on proposed changes to healthcare. The two local NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG and NHS Southend CCG - are jointly updating their Service Restriction Policies (SRP) and seeking views on a number of changes within the document. The CCGs are reviewing the criteria for three treatments as follows:

1. Gynaecomastia (Enlargement Of The Male Breast Tissue)
2. Spine Injections
3. Implantation of Toric Lenses for Corneal Astigmatism during Cataract Surgery

Please read the attached document which gives details of all the services and proposed changes as well as contact information. You can then either complete a printed version of the survey and post it to us, or complete an online version here:

If you need for more information please email 

The consultation runs from 21 February until 14 March 2017.

We're holding a drop-in session on 8 March at Leigh Primary Care Centre for anyone who would like more information, or would like to discuss the consultation.

SRP drop in invitation web


New service launched in Southend

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A NEW care co-ordination service has been launched in Southend offering early support and a co-ordination of care for people with complex needs. The Complex Care Coordination Service is led by a team from the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT) and aims to identify and support patients to maintain personal independence, delay disease progression and improve overall outcomes.

The service has been commissioned by NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and will see health and social care staff from a number of agencies working side-by-side including local GP practices, social care and housing, community physical and mental health and substance misuse. The service aims to:

1.       Support GP practices to improve the health and social wellbeing of those living with frailty and or complex needs from 55 years and over

2.       Maintain optimum levels of independence and recovery through the provision of effective and coordinated health and social care services

3.       Prevent the individuals’ needs escalating and avoid increasing demand on health and social care services, both pre and post hospital admission

4.       Provide a complex care coordinator as a dedicated and consistent point of contact

5.       Provide timely access to support and reconnection to local communities through  dedicated complex care navigators

6.       Work with complex care patients to help them understand what services may be available to them

Sharon Houlden, Director of Adult Services and Housing, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “I am really excited about the introduction of the complex care service in Southend. Social workers and their health colleagues will work side-by-side. This will help them have a strong understanding of their local community and engage wholly with residents to maximise independence and inclusion and reduce marginalization.”

Southend’s NHS and social care services are being arranged around four localities (West, West Central, East Central and East) and the new service is initially being launched within East Central before being rolled-out in the remaining three localities. Each locality will have a named Complex Care Coordinator and a named Complex Care Navigator.

Dr Josè Garcia Lobera, Chair of NHS Southend CCGsaid: “We have identified a cohort of patients across the borough whose needs we consider to be amongst the most complex and who already access a range of different health and social care services, and  may also have repeated hospital admissions. By delivering all their services together through a multidisciplinary team of health and social care workers we can place the patient at the centre of these services and better support them within their own home, delivering much better outcomes for them.”  

The service is expected to be co-ordinated and integrated with other services which support and deliver care to individuals with complex care needs, their carers and families including:

  • Community Geriatrician
  • Community Falls Team
  • Community mental health services
  • Voluntary Services and Community Groups



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Prescriptions for conditions such as dry skin and indigestion currently cost the local NHS more than £2m a year, with added pressure on GPs from patients seeking appointments when they could simply visit their local pharmacist instead. You can buy many medications over the counter for minor ailments simply by visiting your pharmacist.


Cetirizine or Loratidine for about £1.50 for 28 days


Loperamide for about £1 for 6 capsules


Various tablets and liquids available for about £2 per pack

Muscle and joint pain

Paracetamol (approx. 19p for 16 capsules), ibuprofen (25pfor 16 tablets), various topical rubs (approx. £1.50 per tube)

Dry eyes

Hypromellose for about £1

Dry skin

Epimax cream for about £2.80.

Many others are also readily available

Epilepsy support for pregnant mums

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 Jose Small 1


Campaigners and NHS professionals in Southend have pledged to work together to promote the importance of advice and care for pregnant women who have epilepsy. The move follows new guidance published at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists World Congress in Birmingham, the first time guidance on epilepsy in pregnancy have been produced.

Diane Blake-Lawson, Chair of the South East Essex Epilepsy Support Group, said: “Epilepsy is a common condition with around 600,000 people suffering from it in the UK of which an estimated 275,000 are women. A third of women with epilepsy are of child-bearing age and most women with epilepsy have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. However, having frequent seizures during pregnancy can be harmful to both mother and baby and pose significant risks. Women with epilepsy need the support of a specialist healthcare team throughout their pregnancy.”

Research shows children born to mothers who take anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) during pregnancy, in particular sodium valproate, are at an increased risk of physical and developmental problems including spina bifida, heart defects and autism. However, the new guideline emphasises that stopping AEDs completely or altering the dose can worsen seizures and pose a serious risk to both mother and baby.

Dr José Garcia Lobera, Chair of NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The guidance is very useful for GPs and shows how important it is that a woman with epilepsy seeks advice from health professionals such as a neurologist, specialist nurse or their GP before conception. There is clearly a need for support and counselling before, during and after pregnancy and we need to make sure a pregnant woman with epilepsy is aware of the benefits of working with her GP in order to ensure appropriate treatment.”

The CCG will be promoting the new guidance to all GPs in Southend-on-Sea and will work with patient groups to ensure information is communicated to patients as well.

Paul Ilett

Head of Communications and Engagement

Office: 01702 313690 | Email: