Scotland GPs face extra work following scrapping of prescription charges

Scottish GPs are facing increasing workload as patients request items such as paracetamol following the scrapping of prescription charges, GPC Scotland has said.

The Scottish government scrapped prescription charges from 1 April in an effort to ensure cost is not a barrier to patients accessing prescription medicine.

But NHS Lothian said GPs locally are now facing an ‘upsurge’ in requests from patients to prescribe items such as thrush treatments, paracetamol and lotions so they can avoid having to pay for medicines over-the-counter.  

The health board said this has impacted on GPs’ workload and has implications for costs in general practice.  

GPC Scotland chairman Dr Dean Marshall said he was not surprised GPs are seeing an increased workload as patients try to avoid paying for medicines.

He said: ‘Any GP would have noticed that [this is the case]. It was the government’s decision to introduce this and it is BMA policy, but it is a pretty obvious effect.

‘You do get patients coming in for appointments to get a prescription for an item so they don’t have to pay for it. It will be hard to quantify the increase in workloads, but there is no doubt there has been an increase.’

But Dr Marshall said there are ‘pretty clear rules’ about what a GP should do in this situation.

He said: ‘If you are advising patients to take something for a condition you need to prescribe it. If you look at your terms of service they say you have to.’

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