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.’