The Times published an article last week reporting on NHS cost savings plans outlined by Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England. The article references concerns raised by charities that the cuts will impact cancer patients in “chronic pain”. The plans are for the scrapping of prescriptions for low-value medicines, such as common painkillers, gluten-free foods and travel vaccines, and for patients to buy these items themselves. Medicines with a cheaper alternative should not be prescribed. These proposals to cut waste will save the NHS about £128 million a year.
Rosie Loftus, Chief Medical Officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, discussed the use of the painkiller, fentanyl: “It is a drug often given to cancer patients to provide crucial pain relief at the end of their life. This move would signal a step back in how we manage people’s care when they’re dying”.