GPs prescribe 75,000 drugs for depression – as NHS also spends thousands on sun-cream, vitamins and even plasters


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Anti-depressants are given to people in North Somerset more than any other drug, as new data reveals GPs in the district have also written out prescriptions for vitamins, minerals, sun-cream and even plasters.

New data released by NHS England shows North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – which holds the purse strings for healthcare in the district – spent a little more than £8million on drugs prescribed by GPs in October, November and December last year.

Diabetes drugs were the biggest cost to North Somerset’s primary healthcare system, with a little more than £875,000 spent on prescribing 48,0304 items of medication to treat the condition.

Drugs prescribed to treat breathing conditions, epilepsy, blood clots and pain also cost the CCG hundreds of thousands of pounds during the three-month period.

But, the type of drug which saw GPs write out the most prescriptions was anti-depressants – with 75,775 items prescribed at a cost of £250,000.

Dr Mary Backhouse, chief clinical officer for the CCG said: “We are committed to improving the mental health of the population with a focus on both prevention, as well as treatment, to support those in need.

“Without care or treatment, mental health problems can have a serious effect on an individual and those around them, impacting on daily life, relationships and work.”

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The data also reveals close to £125,000 was spent on prescribing 7,494 vitamins to people in North Somerset and a further £19,000 was spent on 1,036 minerals.

One GP also wrote out a prescription for plasters, at a cost of £10, and shampoo, cordials and soft drinks, sun-cream and deodorants are also among the list of prescribed items.

But, sun-cream, cold remedies and gluten-free food may soon be unavailable on the NHS in England, as health bosses nationwide have announced plans to crack down on ‘low-value’ medicines.

North Somerset CCG is already looking at stopping prescriptions for gluten-free food but the national proposals could see an outright ban or tighter restrictions on some products being prescribed by GPs.