Letters, calls and emails: Audit Office report did not criticise GPs unduly

Dear Editor

Your editorial describes the National Audit Office as 'bizarrely criticising GPs' generic prescribing rates'.

An article in the same edition, 'GPs hit back at claim that poor scrips cost millions', charged us with saying that 'GPs in England wasted £227 million a year on unnecessary or inappropriate prescriptions' (GP, 25 May).

We claimed no such thing. In fact, our report acknowledges that UK GPs have one of the highest generic prescribing rates in Europe.

But we found that PCTs varied widely in the extent to which local GPs prescribed lower-cost drugs for the same conditions, such as statins (from 28 per cent to 86 per cent of statin prescriptions across PCTs in England).

So, while GPs as a whole are doing well, there is room for improvement.

What we found was that a change in prescribing behaviour in relation to just 19 per cent of the drugs bill could save £200-£300 million a year.

Julian Wood, National Audit Office.

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