NHS prescribing survey

Help us to help you… 

…make the best use of NHS money

Prescribing

During December 2015 and January 2016 we conducted a survey about prescribing savings and invited GPs, community pharmacists, patients and the public to participate.  The survey contained examples and facts highlighting where we can save money on prescribing. 486 people responded to the survey.


Click here to see a copy of our survey feedback report or continue reading more about our prescribing savings plans....

Click here to view our Guide to NHS prescribing changes a patient information leaflet that describes the changes we have made as a result of this survey 
to support our savings plan. 

Why are we taking action to make savings?…
Contrary to what many people might think, the NHS is not free – everyone who pays tax (e.g. Income Tax and VAT) is paying for it.  The NHS has to change so that more can be delivered for less money.  We are working hard to transform services so that they are sustainable well into the future but these changes are very large and take time.  In the meantime, just like NHS organisations up and down the country, we are finding it hard to balance our books. 

We are having to take a long hard look at all areas where we think we can make immediate savings.  This will not be easy, but taking action now will avoid much harder decisions that would affect essential NHS services in the coming years if we do nothing. We need to act now for a better NHS in the future.

One area where we can make substantial savings is prescribing…
We meet the costs of all items prescribed to individuals registered with an East Riding of Yorkshire GP.  In 2014-15 our total prescribing costs were £53.9 million.  In late 2014, the nationally agreed prices for prescribed items rose and we are predicting a £2 million overspend on our prescribing budget for 2015-16.  When compared with other similar organisations, our overall spend on prescriptions is much higher than average.  We are taking the following action to substantially reduce this expected overspend:

Prescribing the best buy option to maximise value for money  This might mean swapping to a like for like drug choice that is better value for money or to medication in a different formulation (e.g. coated/uncoated tablets, liquid/tablet). Click here to read more...
Asking people to buy their items over the counter  Many items are available at a much lower cost in local pharmacies or supermarkets than they are for the NHS to prescribe.  Click here to read more... 

When should I worry? leaflet for parents giving essential advice on how to deal with common infections in children

Reducing waste and improving safety Many people get repeat prescriptions that include items they do not need and may even no longer be taking.  We want to work with our population, our GPs and our pharmacists to reduce this waste.  Click here to read more...

Fabulous fortified feasts a booklet full of useful recipes, advice and ideas for increasing calorie and protein intake

   
A saving of just one hundredth of our 2014-15 prescribing budget would be £540,000 which is enough money for Dementia Advisers to support 1350 people with early stage dementia for 1 year.
 
Survey highlights

79%  agreed with our plans to prescribe the best buy option to maximise value for money
This might mean swapping to a like for like drug choice that is better value for money or to medication in a different formulation (e.g. coated/uncoated tablets, tablet/capsule).

72% agreed with our plans to ask people to buy their items over the counter
Many items are available at a much lower cost in local pharmacies or supermarkets than they are for the NHS to prescribe.

97% agreed with our plans to reduce waste and improve safety
Many people get repeat prescriptions that include items they do not need and may even no longer be taking.  We want to work with our population, our GPs and our pharmacists to reduce this waste.

 
The main reasons people agreed:
  • It is common sense as it is vital for the future of the NHS.
  • We all have an individual responsibility.  People should be supported with more health advice and education so that they can achieve a healthy long term solution.
  • It will help fund essential services and could be spent in other areas needing the funding more.

Main reasons people disagreed:

  • Cheapest may not be the best.
  • I have paid taxes/I get free prescriptions.  I should not be penalised and your suggested savings would mean more expense for me.
  • Quality, cost and availability of gluten free items in shops is not the same as those items available on prescription.  In response to this feedback, we decided to continue to allow some gluten free items to continue to be provided on NHS prescription - but only bread and flour - and only 8 units per month.
Money saving ideas
The two most popular ideas for helping with our savings plans were:

Reducing waste
  • Manage repeat prescription processes more effectively so that items are only dispensed when they are actually needed.
  • Work across the entire NHS to reduce waste for all types of patients.

Changing people’s behaviour
  • Show how doing things such as exercising, smoking less and drinking less link to long term prevention of many diseases and illnesses to encourage people to live more healthily.
  • Support GPs to have conversation with patients to educate them about costs to the NHS and consider buying their own over the counter medication to help save the NHS money.

Click here to see a copy of our survey feedback report

If you have any questions about the information on this page, please contact us by clicking this link.