GPs face pressure to cut prescribing cost and variation as NHS unveils monitoring tool

NHS England has launched a tool to monitor GP prescribing to help CCGs 'highlight variation in local practice and stimulate discussion on the appropriateness of local care'.

Prescription: GPs could face pressure to cut costs
Prescription: GPs could face pressure to cut costs

The Medicines Optimisation Dashboard tool will look at ‘variation in use’ of newer medicines and aims to reduce the £300m of waste in primary care, half of which is avoidable, NHS England said.

‘It is not intended to be used as a performance management tool but is designed to encourage localised discussions about how well patients are being supported to get maximum benefit from medicines,’ a statement from NHS England said.

But GPC clinical and prescribing subcommittee chairman Dr Andrew Green warned that data collected by the tool could be used against GP practices.

Simplistic analysis

NHS England's statement launching the tool 'has clearly been very carefully written to allay fears that these figures might be used in an inappropriate way as a measure of performance', he said.

‘We have seen, with [other regulators], the trouble that organisations can get into if they approach such figures in a simplistic way.'

Comparisons of prescribing figures must take into account variations between practices for the data to be useful and valid, he warned.

‘Unless practices can be provided with resources to analyse and act on these figures they will be too busy fire-fighting to undertake change, and any potential benefits from this work will be lost,’ Dr Green added.

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