Health chiefs in Cambridgeshire spent £1.5 million in 2015/16 on prescribing pain relief medication for patients who could have bought painkillers over the counter.
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group also revealed it spends £1.2 million to treat upset stomachs, £550,000 on antihistamines for hayfever and £320,000 to treat heartburn and indigestion.
All of these medicines can be bought at local pharmacies or supermarkets for less than it costs the NHS to prescribe.
Sati Ubhi, chief pharmacist at the CCG, said “We want the public to really think before they visit the GP, is this something that I can treat myself? Is there a medication I can buy for this over the counter? A packet of paracetamol can cost as little as 25p for 16 tablets at a pharmacy. But if you go to your GP with your ache or pain and get a prescription, the total cost to your NHS is approximately £45.”
That figure includes GP time.
The CCG estimates the cost of time and money spent on GP appointments for patients who could have self-cared is £17.6 million.