Diverting hospital prescribing to primary care increases costs

Moves to divert hospital prescribing to primary care are increasing NHS costs and inappropriately shifting clinical responsibility, experts have warned.

GPC prescribing lead Dr Bill Beeby said that pressure to move prescribing to primary care had increased over the past 18 months.

'I have absolutely no doubt that there is a huge push towards trusts pushing prescribing into primary care,' he said. ‘It is absolutely aimed at reducing costs.'

NHS Information figures show that, over the past four years, prescriptions issued in the community have risen 23%, while those issued in hospital outpatient prescriptions have fallen by 2%.

Dr Beeby said, as well as moving workload and clinical responsibility, such action introduced inefficiencies into the healthcare system and ended up costing the NHS more.

Any money saved on hospital drug budgets would be outweighed by the cost of staff time spent on unnecessary appointments and paperwork, he pointed out. It was also inappropriate for GPs to continue most off-label prescribing initiating in hospital, he said.

Read a fuller version of this story including MDU comment in the latest edition of GP dated 4 June

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