The NHS spent almost half a million pounds on laxative prescriptions for patients in Brighton and Hove in the past financial year, according to a new study.
The analysis found that NHS Brighton and Hove, the clinical commissioning group (CCG), spent £495,278 in 2021-22.
A separate analysis found that NHS spending on laxatives rose significantly – by almost 15 per cent – during the coronavirus lockdowns along with an even bigger jump in anti-depressant prescriptions.
But nationally, Brighton and Hove had one of the lowest levels of spending per patient on laxative prescriptions – 95th out of 106 NHS areas.
The daily amount was £125.51 per patient, according to PRG, using the Open Prescribing search tool funded by NHS England to analyse monthly English Prescribing Data by the NHS Business Services Authority.
Perhaps there’s a grain of truth in jokes about the probiotic culinary tastes of those not just in Hanover – nicknamed the muesli mountain – but more widely in Brighton and Hove.
Although laxative prescriptions tended to be more common in areas with an older population – and Brighton and Hove’s remains relatively youthful, according to the 2021 census results.
In East Sussex, the NHS spent £1,053,253 on laxative prescriptions in 2021-22 – or £154.29 – placing it 66th out of 106 areas.
And in West Sussex, the NHS spent £1,845,528 in the same year – or £166.02 – placing it 66th out of 106 areas.
An estimated 1 in 7 adults and up to 1 in 3 children in Britain suffers from constipation at any one time, according to PRG.
It said: “The condition affects twice as many women as men and is also more common in older adults and during pregnancy.”
PRG editor Alicia Harper, a nutritionist and microbiome expert, said: “While constipation can be serious if left untreated, it is fortunately preventable provided you take early action.
“Eating more fibre, such as fruit, vegetables, oats, and drinking more fluids are some of the basic things you can do to avoid needing laxatives later on.
“New research into the use of probiotics looks promising. Kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir milk are some recommended probiotic foods for constipation.
“It can be embarrassing to talk about your poo habits but opening up is one of the ways we can educate more people about constipation.”
The NHS website also recommends exercise to help combat bowel problems such as constipation.