The NHS is dishing out millions of prescriptions a year for everyday household essentials such as toothpaste, suncream and handcream. Those benefiting from the taxpayer-funded largesse include people already not required to pay for their prescriptions, such as those on benefits.
Damning new figures released yesterday reveal 404,500 NHS prescriptions were written last year for suncream, costing the taxpayer £13million; 4.7 million for indigestion pills, costing £29million; and 1.4 million prescriptions for multivitamins, at £4.2 million.
The data comes from a new report, Prescription Cost Analysis England 2014, which revealed 1.1 billion items are dispensed annually at the expense of the British taxpayer – a three percent increase on 2013.
The NHS is already generating a huge black hole in its finances, with chief executive Simon Stevens predicting that by 2020 there will be shortfall of at least £8billion in its annual budget.
Roger Goss of Patient Concern told the Daily Mail: “This is ludicrous. Every week we hear of patients being denied another cancer treatment or refused cataracts while others are being prescribed toothpaste. Whoever is prescribing this or authorising it must have completely lost their mind.”
Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, added: “The vast majority of hard-pressed families have to pay for their own everyday essentials, and taxpayers will be furious if others are gaming the system. We must tighten up the rules on these giveaways and give GPs more flexibility, ensuring that only those who really need them receive them.”