Exclusive: Antibiotic spending varies more than two-fold between CCGs

CCGs in parts of England spend more than twice as much per patient on antibiotics as their counterparts elsewhere in the country, official prescribing data reveal.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that some commissioning bodies spent 2.4 times as much per patient on antibiotics as others in the first quarter of 2016, analysis by GPonline reveals.

St Helens CCG had a net ingredient cost of £220,957 for antibacterial drugs from January to March, according to the statistics – equivalent to £1.13 per registered patient.

At the other end of the scale, West London CCG spent just £114,293 – which worked out as 47p per patient.

GP antibiotic prescribing

The findings mean that the average person in St Helens cost the health service 2.4 times as much on antibacterial drugs as those in the West London CCG area. The findings suggest that despite falls in overall antibiotic prescribing CCGs have been unable to reduce variation since analysis by GPonline last year revealed a similar gap over a two-year period.

Across England, £47.3m was spent on antibiotics in the first quarter of 2013. GPonline reported last year that antibiotic prescribing by GPs had dropped to a five-year low.

Earlier this year it emerged that 2m fewer antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed in primary care throughout 2015 than in the year before.

Regional variation

The latest prescription figures show that the huge variations in antibiotic prescribing are marked not just between individual CCGs, but across wider regions.

The 10 CCGs spending the most per head on antibacterial drugs in the first three months of this year were all based in the north of England, with eight of them in north-west England.

In contrast, the 10 CCGs with the lowest per capita spend on antibacterial drugs were all based in London.

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