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GP dispensed prescriptions rise 3% to 1.1 billion

Growing prescriptions prove rising GP workload, says BMA

Adrian O'Dowd

Wednesday, 08 April 2015

The number of prescriptions dispensed in the community in England rose by 3% in the past year to around 1.1 billion items, according to figures published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

The BMA said the figures were more proof that GPs were dealing with a steadily growing workload with more patient consultations and more need of drugs with which to treat them.

Today’s HSCIC Prescription Cost Analysis England 2014 statistics show that there were 1.1 billion prescription items dispensed in the community in 2014, which was 3% (34 million items) higher than in 2013.

The Net Ingredient Cost (NIC) in 2014 was £8.9 billion, an increase of 3% (£227 million) on the NIC in 2013.

On individual cost, the average NIC per item in 2014 was £8.32, a decrease of 0.7% (5 pence) on the average NIC per item in 2013.

Simvastatin was the most commonly prescribed chemical with 37.8 million items dispensed in 2014, whilst Metformin Hydrochloride had the greatest NIC of £96.2m.

Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA’s GP committee, told OnMedica the prescription figures were proof of the rising workload of GPs who were dealing with increasing numbers of patients.

“This is a sign that GPs are treating more patients than ever and providing more treatments than ever,” said Dr Vautrey. “That is inevitable as we have an aging population.”

On the fact that Simvastatin, the cholesterol lowering medication, was the most commonly prescribed drug, Dr Vautrey said: “That reflects that more and more people are being treated and monitored for chronic diseases and to prevent diseases such as heart disease or stroke in the future.”

The highest NIC drug of Metformin was, he said, “a sign of the rising number of patients with diabetes and that we are using Metformin as the first line treatment, which is increasingly being used for diabetics who are overweight”.

“These figures are just one sign, together with the rising number of blood tests that are done and rising number of consultations, that provide clear evidence as to why GPs’ workload is increasing,” he added.

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