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Debating the hot topics

​​Join us on social media to discuss your prescribing issues
We are planning three weeks of social media discussion so that people can share their views on some of the hottest healthcare topics at the moment.

They will be using Twitter and Facebook to engage, listen and learn from the public, to better understand the prescribing issues that will shape NHS policy in the future.

Three areas of prescribing will be focused on – e-cigarettes, repeat prescriptions and hay fever remedies.

South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is responsible for the majority of health care in the area, will host the social media discussions.

Dr Jo Roberts, CCG clinical lead for medicines optimisation, said: “We’re looking at how aspects of the local NHS budget should be spent and what the priorities for people are, as well as what aspects of healthcare are priorities and what aren’t.

“For instance, in terms of hay fever, do people think it’s right that we ask patients to buy low-cost medicines and supplies from high street outlets rather than get them on prescription so that the money can be better spent on more serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease?

“During the Twitter chats our experts will pose questions and answer questions. If a full answer can’t be given on the spot, they will follow up as soon as possible after the chat.”

The first Twitter chat will look at the prescribing of e-cigarettes. The CCG’s current advice to GPs is that these should not been prescribed, but the organisation wants to hear what people think about this.

The second discussion will be about the prescribing of over-the-counter hay fever remedies, including antihistamines. The CCG has issued guidance for GPs not to prescribe these, but it is asking people to highlight any aspect that may not have been considered yet.

Repeat prescribing will be the subject of the third week. People will be asked to consider what items they currently receive, and who is best placed to order the medicines they need.

Dr Roberts added: “The pace and scale of change that social media has brought to society have been massively significant.

“It’s such an important means of communication for people of all ages, and we feel that if we want to get as many people’s views as possible, a three-week social media event will be hugely useful.

“Many people might not normally debate these sorts of health issues because they feel the system doesn’t cater for them, but we think these topics will interest people on social media. They’re relevant topics nationally at the moment, but they’re of real importance locally.

“We’ve used social media before as part of our public engagement, but it’s the first time we’ve used it in this way and on this scale. We want to hear the views – positive and negative – of as many people as possible.”

The Twitter chats will take place through March – on the 10th (8.30pm, #ccgecigs), 17th (8.30pm, #ccghayfever) and 23rd (10am, #ccgrptmeds).

In addition to the Twitter chats, the CCG is aiming to stimulate discussion on Facebook, using its own Facebook locality accounts and posting on South Devon and Torbay community Facebook pages.