Brighton and Hove patients given laxatives costing £500k a year, study finds

Posted On 24 Nov 2022 at 10:33 am

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.

Spacewords Brighton

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.

  1. Graham Hannaford Reply

    Cheaper to give them a spoon😄

  2. Up at the Crack of Dawn Reply

    “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.”

  3. Jojo Goldsmith Reply

    This story is unlikely to run and run

  4. Maggie Reply

    Why aren’t doctors prescribing better diets instead of always going to the prescription pad? Too much medication is unnecessarily prescribed. I believe that doctors need more training in nutrition.

    • Benjamin Reply

      There’s a chain of thought that considers doing things like that instead of that. Something I am always recommend to my patients is to drink more water, subjectively in my own experience, many people do not drink, nor get close to, the recommended amount.

      I would also be interested in finding out if things like budget foods, generally being particularly high in things like salt, potentially having some effect on bowel health.

      Some bathroom reading methinks!

  5. normal pooper Reply

    I was in hospital for a week in bed most of the time. I said I felt a bit constipated but it might have been that the toilet was about 4 ft off the ground and difficult to use due to the weird angle.

    When they sent me on my way they have me two huge boxes of laxitives. Totally over the top and pointless as I didn’t need them…

  6. Sussex Mum Reply

    More people are reliant on food banks, fresh fruit and veg are out of their budget and they have little or no choice of what they are given. Choosing to heating over food could be another factor and constipation can be a side effect of other medication.

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