NHS issues hay fever guidance to help cut unnecessary prescription costs

27 March 2023

Health bosses at NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin have issued guidance to people who experience hay fever symptoms, along with information on where to find help and cut prescription costs.

This spring, residents across the county are being encouraged to visit their local pharmacy for advice and treatment as it is not usually necessary to see a GP if you have hay fever symptoms.

Over-the-counter treatments from a pharmacy are available cheaply, without a prescription. Local, expert pharmacists are available for quick, free advice with no appointment necessary, and advice can also be obtained from the NHS website.

During the last 12 months, the local NHS prescribed 60,167 items to patients to treat mild hay fever, costing over £300,000. All these items would have been easily and cheaply available over-the-counter from local supermarkets, pharmacies and high street stores.

As an example, a packet of 30 tablets to treat the symptoms of hay fever would cost £9.65 on prescription but can cost as little as £3 over-the-counter.

Gareth Harris, a Shropshire-based pharmacist, said: “A lot of people book a GP appointment for advice on hay fever, which isn’t needed. It’s far better to ask your local pharmacist if you’re not sure what treatment is suitable for the symptoms you have. Pharmacists are highly trained clinicians, and you can visit at a time that suits you.

“We have a range of over-the-counter treatments in stock, including nasal sprays, eye drops and tablets which are often far cheaper than prescriptions. A simple nasal spray costs £8 in a pharmacy. It’s far cheaper, easier and quicker for patients to come to their pharmacist for help with hay fever.”

Hay fever is a common condition also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis. It affects around 1 in 5 of us in the UK and mainly affects people between March and September. Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen; the fine powder produced by trees, flowers and weeds.

Symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes, a runny nose and headaches. Although hay fever is often harmless unfortunately there is no cure, so healthcare professionals suggest avoiding pollen alongside managing symptoms.

Dr Masood Ahmed, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin said: “By visiting a pharmacy to discuss hay fever symptoms you’ll be saving yourself time and money, freeing up GP appointments for people with urgent needs and helping yourselves and the NHS save money on unnecessary prescription costs.

“We all have a responsibility to look after our own health and our NHS, and this is a simple way of doing just that.”

For more information on hay fever symptoms, please visit our website here.

Page last updated 27 March 2023