NHS guidelines for prescribing paracetamol

Eliza8591 Member Posts: 2
edited 21. Jul 2019, 06:23 in Living with arthritis
Hi - My 83 year old mum is reliant on the max 8 paracetamol a day to control her osteoarthritis pain.
Up until the last couple of weeks her GP was prescribing paracetamol, but has just asked her to start buying it in line with latest government guidelines.

According to NHS website:-

You may still be prescribed a medicine for a condition on the list if:
. you need treatment for a long-term condition, for example regular pain relief for chronic arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease

I would argue that at 83, with limited mobility she should be prescribed paracetamol on this basis. Should she really be expected to worry about going out to buy sufficient when she is using 8 a day?
Does anyone on this forum have a view or experience of this issue?


  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 3,635
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello Eliza8591 and welcome to the forums from the moderation team.

    I am very sorry to hear about your Mum’s Arthritis and her GP stopping prescribing her paracetamol. I can totally see why you are upset when your 83 year old Mum now has to go out and buy her painkillers.

    If you are quoting the NHS guideline it does read as though she may still be eligible to have hers on prescription. Would you feel confidant discussing the issue with her GP? If the answer is still the same I buy mine from the pharmacist as they can sell larger boxes than supermarkets seem to. Obviously supermarkets are much cheaper.

    I was reading today about the cessation of free TV licences for the over 75’s. Seems like its cuts all round and older people are being hit hard.

    We have a great community here, who have lots of experience of arthritis, I know they will make you very welcome and help in any way they can.

    Best wishes

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,719
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello. I'm sorry your Mum's got this additional problem on top of her arthritis. Writing as someone who needs a lift to get to both GP surgery and pharmacy, I can appreciate how difficult the situation must be for her.

    I'm guessing that her medical practice has only recently acted on the guidelines put out by the NHS in 2017. They were issued for good reason 'paracetamol is an average of four times as expensive when provided on prescription by the NHS, compared to when it is purchased in pharmacies or supermarkets. It can costs around £34 for 32 on prescription including dispensing and GP consultation fees. (https://tinyurl.com/yahs7lc8 )' However, I don't think they were intended to hit people like your Mum. In fact, it might well be computers to blame. I can see that a Practice Manager might have flagged up all patients on repeat prescriptions of paracetamol and just contacted the lot.

    I'd suggest either she or you ring the medical practice and ask if she could be put back on repeat paracetamol If the Practice Manager refuses then ask to speak to your mother's GP. If all else fails, if it were me, I'd simply ensure that (a) I put them on my online grocery delivery list every week and (b) everyone visiting me knew to turn up with packets of paracetamol.

    I hope this can be resolved quickly.
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  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    This came up on a documentary series a while ago where staff chatting amongst themselves while sorting out prescriptions were querying why there were scrips for paracetamol when it was much cheaper OTC. It was then pointed out that there is a limit to how many can be bought at a time OTC which is a problem if, like your mum, a patient is on maximum dose.
    This is the 'official' statement
    I don't think your mother falls into either of the two groups mentioned so worth taking up with the GP.
    I was asked to buy my own hayfever treatment earlier this year as I don't need to take it all the time and it's very cheap OTC, but that's not the same as your mother's constant pain from OA, which isn't a minor or self-limiting condition.
  • Jackie47
    Jackie47 Member Posts: 108
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sorry about non prescription of Paracetamol. My surgery still prescribes my paracetamol for long term illness.
  • Airwave!
    Airwave! Member Posts: 2,466
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Since painkillers stop working after a relatively short period as the body gets used to them, then there is not any point in taking them, they were only ever intended for short term use. The majority of doctors have not done the courses to update their use of painkillers.

    It may well be that the painkillers are acting as placebos but still having side effects on many patients? There are other ways to combat pain that you can find through these pages. Try gentle heat for a start.