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GPs save almost £2million in a year by prescribing cheaper drugs and fewer antibiotics

PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 March 2017

GPs in Suffolk have reduced the amount spent on prescriptions by nearly £2m, compared to the previous year.

GPs in Suffolk have reduced the amount spent on prescriptions by nearly £2m, compared to the previous year.

Reducing antibiotic prescriptions and use of cheaper drugs has helped GPs in Suffolk save almost £2million in a year, it has emerged.

Dr Paul Driscoll, chairman and medical director of the Suffolk GP Federation. PHOTO: Pagepix Ltd. Dr Paul Driscoll, chairman and medical director of the Suffolk GP Federation. PHOTO: Pagepix Ltd.

There has been closer scrutiny of repeat prescriptions and more “delayed” medication – only used if a condition doesn’t clear up within a few days – to help ease the financial pressure.

Patients are also now more likely to be asked to buy the likes of painkillers over the counter instead of getting them prescribed. The cost of paracetamol on prescription can be 20 times more than the price of a box from the chemist or supermarket - as little as 19p.

The figures, which show a £1,872,436 saving compared to the previous year, have just been published by the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG has been working with GPs to reduce costs as it continues to face serious financial pressures.

Last night, the Suffolk GP Federation hailed the “impressive” progress, and said it had been achieved without patients suffering.

Paul Driscoll, chairman and medical director of Suffolk GP Federation, said: “Apart from receiving a letter and having a change from one prescription to another, the medication is exactly the same so patients have not been adversely affected.

“We all understand that we have got to make the best of NHS resources and that’s a responsibility of all of us. I think most people have got that message.”

Some of the savings have been made by cutting down the number of ‘specials’ drugs prescribed – such as liquids instead of tablets. Prescribing a specially formulated drug in liquid form can cost up to £400 per month whereas the same drug in tablet form could cost as little as £2 per month.

‘Delayed’ prescriptions have been effective, and are only used by up to 50% of patients who they are issued to because their complaint clears up with a few days.

Dr Driscoll, a GP at Haven Health in Felixstowe, said: “What we’ve achieved with prescribing demonstrates the willingness of GPs to do that extra bit of work to make cost savings for the NHS.

“But knowing some of that saving is going to come back into primary care to help us with other services has been what’s made a big difference over the last couple of years.

“The CCG medicines management team does a fantastic job identifying what we need to do and then supports us in doing it.

“It’s a great example of where the CCG and the frontline GPs are working closely together.”

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