The Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says antihistamines are usually the best treatment for hay fever and these can easily be bought from pharmacies. Buying a packet of 30 tablets can cost as little as £2.75, but a prescription costs the NHS considerably more. Hay fever affects one in four people in the UK and is mainly caused by grass pollen. However, in spring, tree pollen can be prevalent causing sneezing, itchy and watery eyes and a stuffy nose. Antihistamines are usually the best treatment for hay fever and these can easily be Sati Ubhi, associate director of medicines optimisation at the CCG said: Each year we spend £550,000 prescribing hay fever medication to patients in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. When you compare the cost its the same as 97 hip replacements or treating 142 patients for a stroke or 572 cataract operations. Visiting a local pharmacy is your best option. Just ask to speak to the pharmacist. They are experts in medications and can find you the right medication to help you. Community pharmacists can also offer advice on how to avoid triggers. Locally, the NHS spent more than £4million last year on prescribing medicines that could have easily been bought at a pharmacy or supermarket for less than it costs the NHS to prescribe. These medicines include pain killers, antihistamines, and indigestion remedies. The CCG and GPs have been working together to encourage local residents to buy these low cost basic medications themselves instead of getting them on prescription to help reduce overall spend and GP consultation time. Mr Ubhi added: Self-care is an important part of keeping well, and having a well-stocked medicine cabinet can help people to treat minor illnesses and injuries at home, without the need to see a GP. We all have a responsibility to look after our own health and look after our NHS.