A PENSIONER has hit out after he claims his GP told him to buy a hayfever treatment at Poundland.

The man, from Taunton, who does not wish to be named, said it is "a disgrace" he wasn't given a doctor's prescription for the medication.

But health bosses say it is part of a cost-saving initiative and patients also have a responsibility for their own health, particularly if they have minor ailments.

He said: "Local GPs have been 'instructed' by Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (SCCG) to refuse to issue some prescriptions for certain medications to their patients even though the GP originally put them on that prescription.

"I was refused by my GP hayfever tablets this hayfever season on a prescription and was advised to go to Poundland and purchase them, even though I am on a fixed income through a state pension.

"Having worked and paid into the system for 60 years and also served Queen and country, this is the thanks I get - self-medication through Poundland. It's a disgrace."

SCCG published in the autumn a list of 25 types of medicines or products they recommend the county's 71 GP practices no longer prescribe for the most minor of ailments.

As well as hayfever treatments, the list also includes paracetamol, throat-sprays, hair removing cream, coughs and cold remedies, antiperspirants, head lice shampoos and skin moisturisers.

Dr Ed Ford, Somerset CCG chairman, said: “Somerset CCG wants the public to take their health seriously and appreciate that most minor ailments or illness are usually self-limiting and go away over time.

“Treating your own ailment is often the quickest and easiest of options. If you are not sure what to do, you can always get advice from your local pharmacist or call NHS 111, the 24-hour telephone helpline.

"They are happy to signpost you to the right information, advice or health service for your level of illness or ailment.

"The money the CCG currently spends on funding items for minor ailments could be much better spent if used to support patients with the most serious health conditions."

The cost of prescribing minor ailment products in Somerset in 2015-16 was £4,844,443 - the annual cost of prescriptions for antiperspirants was £2,035; hair removal products £15,938; and medicated head lice treatments £17,394.

GPs are still free to write at their discretion prescriptions for items on the list if a patient has "particularly serious health problems".

Nationally, the annual cost to the NHS from prescriptions for paracetamol is £88 million, while suncream costs the taxpayer £1.38 million, painkilling plasters £17.58 million and gluten-free food £22 million.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said a planned national crackdown would save the NHS £400 million annually.