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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 16:59 GMT 17:59 UK
Withhold medicines to save money
Image of pills
Local doctors have been told to stop prescribing certain drugs
Doctors in Northamptonshire have been told to withhold drugs from patients to save their health trust 40 million.

The drugs include nicotine replacement therapy, two anti-obesity medicines, a remedy for head lice and some gluten-free foods.

A spokeswoman for Northamptonshire Primary Care trust said it was a difficult decision but was better than closing wards or laying off staff.

The British Medical Association said it was unacceptable.

Penny pinching

Richard Vautrey from the BMA said: "It is very concerning that a PCT - purely for the expedient need of saving money - is dictating to doctors what they can and cannot prescribe."

He warned: "It leaves the doctor in a very invidious position, potentially at risk of complaints."

The General Medical Council, whose job it is to regulate doctors and ensure good medical practice, said each doctor had a responsibility to make the care of their patients their first concern.

If we don't make these cuts, then other areas would bear it, and that could hit vulnerable and sick people more
Dr Kamal Sood, chairman of the local medical committee

A spokeswoman said: "Doctors have an ethical obligation to raise concerns with their employer if they believe that their ability to care for patients is being hampered by a lack of resources.

"However, we recognise that NHS trusts have to take decisions that enable them to provide a good level of care for the public without wasting resources," she said.

Dr Kamal Sood, chairman of the local medical committee, backed the trust's decision.

He said: "It would be easy to sit in our bunkers...but there's an acknowledgement that when the government says 'you've got to balance your books' they mean it."

He added: "If we don't make these cuts, then other areas would bear it, and that could hit vulnerable and sick people more."


SEE ALSO
GPs urged to offer 'cheap' drugs
21 Sep 06 |  England

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