Northern Ireland LMCs want limits on GP prescribing

LMCs have called for a 'limited list' of drugs that GPs can prescribe in Northern Ireland, to help the NHS save cash.

Dr Deeny: rational prescribing (Photograph: SPL)
Dr Deeny: rational prescribing (Photograph: SPL)

The Northern Ireland LMC conference in Enniskillen also carried as a reference a motion calling for a nominal prescription charge to be reintroduced in Northern Ireland, a move that goes against UK BMA policy.

Northern Ireland GPC member Dr Eugene Deeny said in a ‘challenging financial climate’ a limited list of drugs for prescribing was an opportunity to promote ‘rational prescribing’.

‘It provides an opportunity to save a considerable sum of money, and to reinvest that money in the redevelopment of services locally,’ he said.

But he said a limited list must be under the control of ‘actively prescribing clinicians’.

Dr Sean Wilson, a member of Southern LMC, said a centrally produced limited list of drugs would make it easier for GPs to tell patients they cannot have certain prescriptions.

‘No matter how nicely you refuse something it doesn’t go down well on many occasions,’ he said. ‘I think we should call upon the board and the department to help us out, and say there are certain drugs that should no longer be available on the NHS.’

Eastern Board member Dr Alan Stout said nominal scrip charges would be done under a new, fairer scheme than arrangements in the past.

But Dr Martin Cunningham, a member of Eastern LMC, said the GPC should not support a system that disadvantages people who are ill.

‘There are other ways of making the system pay for itself, such as through tax, which is more equitable.’

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