The CCG launched a ‘HelpMyNHS’ campaign on Monday (January 9), which the organisation's chief pharmacist Katy Jackson said is designed to raise patients' awareness that they can “self-treat minor illnesses rather than seeking a prescription through a GP”.
“It costs the NHS four times as much to prescribe these drugs than it does for a patient to buy them,” Ms Jackson said.
As part of the campaign, posters and leaflets are being displayed in GP surgeries and pharmacies across Brighton. NHS services are also using social media to communicate the facts behind the change of prescription protocol to local people, the CCG said.
It hopes stopping the funding will save the NHS half a million pounds, it stressed – enough to recruit "16 community nurses".
More than 100,000 prescriptions for paracetamol and ibuprofen were written last year in Brighton and Hove, "despite both medications being freely and cheaply available in pharmacies and supermarkets", it said.
"Historically, local patients have been prescribed paracetamol and ibuprofen for a wide range of conditions, including headaches, teething, sore throats and sprains," the CCG added.
The CCG is "leading the charge" and expects to see a "national trend [of] more NHS commissioners across England rolling out similar changes to prescription funding this year", it said.
CCG chair and GP David Supple pointed out that GPs would "of course still be able to prescribe these medicines in exceptional circumstances, such as when patients are experiencing long-term chronic pain or sensitivity".
The CCG told C+D that the scheme had been approved at Brighton's area prescribing committee meeting in June 2016, and the campaign documents make reference to the expertise of local community pharmacists.
East Sussex local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) executive officer Vanessa Taylor told C+D the campaign was a “great scheme”.
However, the LPC would have "loved to have worked" more closely with the CCG to encourage community pharmacists to get involved and "get even bigger support", Ms Taylor added.