Plans to save the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year

NHS England has agreed plans to save hundreds of millions of pounds each year by recommending low value treatments, including fish oil, herbal remedies and homeopathy no longer be routinely provided on the NHS.

NHS England and NHS Clinical Commissioners ran a consultation for three months to seek views on proposals to stop routinely prescribing some medicines.

The consultation closed 21 October, and received 5,516 responses in total. This included 2,638 from members of the public. Thank you to all those who responded and gave their views.

Following an extensive review of the consultation responses, the finalised commissioning guidance for the 18 medicines has been published. Read the outcome of the consultation and press release from NHS England.

The NHS England Board agreed that these treatments should no longer be routinely prescribed:

  • Homeopathy– no clear or robust evidence to support its use.
  • Herbal treatments– no clear or robust evidence to support its use.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acid Compounds (fish oil)– essential fatty acids, which can be obtained through diet, low clinical effectiveness.
  • Co-proxamol– pain killer, which has had its marketing authorisation withdrawn due to safety concerns.
  • Rubefacients (excluding topical NSAIDS)– warming muscle rub products, limited evidence.
  • Lutein and Antioxidants– used to treat the eye condition age related macular degeneration, low clinical effectiveness.
  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin– used for joint pain, low clinical effectiveness.


The view is that the guidance for CCGs could help the NHS save money, while continuing to provide the best possible outcomes for patients.

Guidance for CCGs on items that should not be routinely prescribed has also been published. The expectation is that all CCGs will give due regard to following the guidance taking into consideration any local consultation views plus their local equality and impact assessment.

For more information, please refer to the NHS England published frequently asked questions document.