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Prescription rates increased by 3% last year

The numbers of items prescribed by GPs and other community providers in 2013 increased by more than 30 million, a 3% rise from 2012, figures released by the NHS information centre today reveal.

The ‘Prescriptions Dispensed in the Community 2003-2013’ report by the Health and Social Care Information Centre also shows prescribing jumped 59% since 2003, but that the costs of the drugs only rose 15%.

The report shows for the first time that 60% of free prescriptions – which account for 90% of the total – are given to patients with an ‘over 60s’ charges exemption, and that these account for 51% of the total costs of the drugs.

The HSCIC’s chair Kingsley Manning said these findings would be important in predicting future costs associated with an ageing population.

Mr Manning said: ‘We are prescribing almost 60% more items in the community than in 2003, but, over the same period, the cost of these has increased by only 15%.’

‘The finding that over 60s accounted for almost 60% of the free of charge prescriptions, which in turn make up 90%t of all prescriptions, will help the NHS to understand the provision required for the aging population in England.’

This comes after Pulse revealed that CCGs across the country were forcing practices to crack down on prescribing after the 2013/14 budgets revealed millions of pounds overspends.