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All UK GPs should face contractual prescribing targets, say Northern Irish MPs

MPs in Northern Ireland have called for UK-wide prescribing targets to be added to the GMS contract, urging the Northern Irish government to begin talks with their Westminister counterparts.

The recommendation forms part of a new report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the Northern Ireland Assembly, which also suggested Northern Irish GPs were prescribing more expensive drugs than GPs elsewhere in the UK.

The committee acknowledged that GP practices had already achieved some cost savings in the four years since the country’s pharmaceutical budget was devolved from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) to the Health and Social Care (HSC) Board in 2010.

But it suggested Northern Ireland’s prescribing costs could have been reduced by £73m had they been in line with those in Wales in 2013.

The report said: ‘Taking account of local data and information on the prescribing costs of other UK countries, the department, in conjunction with the HSC Board, should undertake an exercise to establish the level of potential savings which more cost effective generic prescribing could generate. This could then be used to set a target prescribing cost for individual GP practices against which to benchmark prescribing performance and to identify areas where further improvement is necessary.’

The report added: ‘As this contract is negotiated on a UK-wide basis, the committee recommends that the department examines, in conjunction with its UK counterparts, how the GMS contract can be strengthened to ensure that GPs improve all aspects of their performance, including prescribing.’

It comes as Pulse revealed last year that CCGs in England were cracking down on GP practices after overspending on their prescribing budgets.

NICE has also recently recommended setting targets on GP prescribing. The body suggested last month that individual GPs should get reports on their antibiotic prescribing levels in a bid to halt developing microbial resistance.

Readers' comments (4)

  • And today's scheme to further damage recruitment and retention is ........

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  • Socialised medicine in the UK

    Set up a hierarchy and bureaucracy to manage the professionals (plebs)

    issue pointless dictates behind which is very little evidence; Get the professionals (PLEBS) jumping through hoops filling out more and more paperwork

    The more and more orders and schemes that are issued the greater the justification for the roles of the bureaucrats;

    divert frontline funding to support these schemes, whilst via the back door profitable portions of the state are sold off to corporate lobby groups;

    remember in a socialist state all are equal, but some more equal than others;

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  • Same MPs then write to practices asking why their constituent has been taken off their beloved branded drug in favour of a generic.... Been there got the T-shirt

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  • Peter Swinyard

    MPs love doing "surgeries" especially just before an election.
    I would love to see them coping with the same numbers in their surgeries as we have in ours.
    And being performance managed on the outcomes.
    Or perhaps, since some of them know so much about how to do our job, they would like to swap???

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