Letter: Prescriptions for savings in the NHS

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Sir: The omnicompetent Audit Commission has criticised general practitioners for overprescribing antibiotics ('Better use of drugs 'could save pounds 425m' ', 8 March) without considering the part played by the Patient's Charter, which has given patients rights, but no responsibilities.

Every day in our surgeries we are faced with a constant trickle of people with minor, self-limiting coughs, colds and sore throats for which treatment is demanded. Refusal not only commits us to several minutes of disbelieving debate, but also brings with it the risk of a complaint to the Family Health Services Authority.

Complaints bring demoralisation, and demoralisation completes a vicious spiral of bad medicine. The answer is for the Government to send out an NHS Charter spelling out patients' responsibilities in treating their own minor conditions and using the NHS wisely.



Congresbury, Avon

9 March

From Dr Steven Ford