More prescriptions issued in 2018

NHS Digital | March 2019 |Prescription Cost Analysis – England, 2018 [PAS]

Prescription Cost Analysis (PCA), analyis conducted by Office for National Statistics shows that in the calendar year 2018, the cost of prescriptions dispensed in the community was £8.8 billion an increase of 2.9 million prescription items dispensed in the community. This shows a decrease of 3.7% (£336.6 million) from £9.2 billion in 2017 (Source: NHS Digital). 

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Responding to an increase in the numbers of antidepressants prescribed, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:

“Antidepressants are no different, and it’s really important that increasing numbers of antidepressant prescriptions are not automatically seen as a bad thing, as research has shown they can be very effective drugs when used appropriately.

“It can be difficult to determine why prescribing rates fluctuate, these figures could indicate rising awareness of mental health conditions in society, and that more patients are feeling able to seek medical care for them – as well as demonstrating an improvement in the identification and diagnosis of mental health conditions (Source: RCGP).

NHS Digital Prescription Cost Analysis- England 2018, [PAS] 

Rising prescription numbers not ‘automatically a bad thing’, says RCGP

Prescription Cost Analysis 2018- Report

Prescription Cost Analysis 2018- Factsheet 

In the news:

BBC News Jump in antidepressant prescriptions in England

The Guardian Antidepressant prescriptions in England double in a decade

Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: an update and a consultation on further guidance for CCGs

NHS England | November 2018 | Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: an update and a consultation on further guidance for CCGs

NHS England are running a national consultation on items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care (for example GP practices, pharmacies, the dentist, and 
eye clinics.) The consultation involves 9 medicines and products. According to NHS England, research shows that some medicines can be replaced with other medicines that
work better, are safer or cost less money.

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Overview Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: an update and a consultation on further guidance for CCGs

Easy read version of the consultation document

Consultation document 

See also:

NHS Clinical Commissioners [press release]

Stopping fraud against the NHS: new plans announced

The government has announced how it will take tougher action on fraud and save hundreds of millions of pounds for the NHS over the next 5 years, increasing the money available for improving patient care | Department of Health and Social Care

The new approach will start with a commitment to halve prescription fraud, which costs the NHS £256 million a year. Prescription exemptions will be digitised, allowing pharmacies to check whether the patient does not have to pay charge before their medication is dispensed. cure-1006811_1920 This will be piloted next year, before being rolled out across the NHS. The focus on prescriptions is one aspect of a wider crackdown on NHS fraud, which will prevent up to £300 million being lost to fraud by April 2020.

Further measures being introduced to stop fraud include:

  • a new partnership between the NHS Counter Fraud Authority (NHSCFA) and the fraud prevention service Cifas, allowing NHS counter-fraud professionals to access Cifas data
  • more collaboration and data sharing between the NHS Business Services Authority and NHSCFA to identify the small number of pharmacists and dentists claiming payments for services they have not carried out
  • the introduction of a new counter-fraud profession in central government, bringing together around 10,000 counter-fraud specialists, including 400 focused on fraud in the NHS

Full detail at Department of Health and Social Care

Prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing

NHS England | August 2018 | Prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing

NHS England have produced a series of documents to support CCGs to implement recommendations and support discussions between patients and their healthcare professionals.

Quick Reference Guide for Healthcare Professionals: Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care

The Quick Reference Guide for Healthcare Professionals is a quick reference tools summarising the CCG guidance on Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care.

Interactive Quick Reference Guide for Healthcare Professionals: Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care

This an interactive, quick reference tool summarising the CCG guidance on Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care.

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There are also a series of patient information leaflets, including easy read leaflets

Patient information leaflet ‘Prescribing of over the counter medicines is changing’

A patient information leaflet to support discussions between patients and healthcare professionals

See NHS England for full details 

RPS backs development of pharmacist independent prescribers

Royal Pharmaceutical Society | August 2018 |RPS backs development of pharmacist independent prescribers

The way health services are delivered is changing and there are more opportunities than ever before for Pharmacist Independent Prescribers (PIPs). 

Greater use of PIPs will increase patient access to medicines and support.  RPS believe all pharmacists in direct patient care roles should have access to independent prescriber training and be able to practise the skills they gain to enhance patient care.

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RPS’ policy document on independent prescribing outlines their views.

Key recommendations include:

  • New models of care should enable PIPs to routinely use their skills and knowledge to benefit patient care
  • A clear pathway must be developed for pharmacists to become qualified Independent Prescribers

Pharmacist Independent Prescribers policy document is available here 

Banning prescriptions for gluten-free products can save the NHS money, but long-term effects on patients aren’t yet clear

NIHR | August 2018 | Banning prescriptions for gluten-free products can save the NHS money, but long-term effects on patients aren’t yet clear

In early 2018 NHS England introduced a new policy banning prescription for gluten-free products, while this is saving money a new study underlines that the impact on patients is unclear.  The research also emphasises that more information is needed to understand the impact of reducing or stopping prescriptions of gluten-free foods, including looking at effects on nutrition and symptoms.

The study has looked at prescribing data across 94% of GP practices in England.

Further details are at NIHR 

The impact of not issuing gluten-free prescriptions has been outlined by NIHR here 

A paper based on this study has now been published in BMC Medicine