‘Nearly all’ practices have signed up to a regional scheme to cut costs on drug prescriptions, despite local GP leaders advising against it, according to the CCG in charge.
The Oxfordshire prescribing incentive scheme, revealed in May, is designed to save £2 per patient, with £1 of that being returned to GP practices. It involves reviewing prescriptions to care home residents in order to ‘optimise medication’.
The scheme was rejected by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire LMCs (BBOLMC), which initially advised practices not to sign up.
The scheme is aimed to deliver initial target savings of £1.45m for the CCG, with a possibility for additional savings through agreement of individual practice plans, the CCG had said.
But, at the time, the BMA’s GP Committee criticised the CCG for taking a cost-saving approach to its medicines optimisation scheme.
Despite this, and the LMC opposition, the scheme has gone ahead and received high uptake, according to NHS Oxfordshire CCG.
A spokesperson said: ‘The approved prescribing incentive scheme is currently being rolled out in Oxfordshire. Nearly all GP practices in Oxfordshire have signed up to the scheme with talks ongoing with the remainder.
‘Among several initiatives, GPs will look at the drugs their patients are being prescribed to make sure they are getting what they need and in the right amounts to help reduce waste.
‘The CCG is working with its GP practices to ensure they have appropriate plans in place for their patients.’
BBOLMC chief executive Dr Paul Roblin told Pulse that the scheme has not been modified, despite facing harsh criticism, and the LMC have retained their red RAG rating to alert practices to problems with the scheme.
He said: ‘We hope that practices look in greater detail and make up their own minds. If they decide to go ahead, that’s up to them, but they have at least had an alert.’
He added: ‘There are lots of things being asked of GPs at the moment with trivial funding that really doesn’t cover the cost. We feel GPs are being taken for granted as a relatively cheap resource.’
Reducing the CCG prescribing bill
The news comes as the Government is currently working on national schemes to reduce the NHS prescribing bill.
However, the GPC has said the plans would be ‘unworkable’ and ‘unacceptable’ for GPs, and would require the DH to actively ‘blacklist’ certain items from ever being prescribed on the NHS.
It also comes as a recent report showed that half of CCGs are planning to delay or cancel spending this year to meet financial targets.
However, in light of media scrutiny, NHS England has asked regions seeking to ration access to elective care services by introducing new thresholds or ‘lifestyle’ criteria to seek pre-approval ‘at least four weeks’ in advance.