Prescriptive variability of drugs by general practitioners
Northern Ireland (NI) has the highest prescription rate in the UK with the cost of prescribing (£440m in 2015) greater than the yearly budget of some Stormont departments.
The aim of our study was to investigate temporal changes and between-GP practice variation in rates and costs of prescribing across the NI Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) that was found to have (on average) higher rates and costs of prescribing than the rates and costs recorded in England. The variations in prescribing between the WHSCT GP surgeries were very marked, often with significant differences between geographically close practices. We found that practice setting and socio-economic deprivation accounted for some of the between-practice variation in prescribing with higher levels of prescribing recorded for practices located in rural and more deprived areas of the WHSCT.
Our study used publicly available data on GP prescribing published by Business Services Organisation on OpenDataNI.
The results of our work were published in PLoS ONE peer-reviewed scientific journal and can be accessed below.