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Practice prescribing and dispensing data on the Web

October 2011 data due to publish this month

By Ailsa Colquhoun

11th of January 2012

Practice level prescribing and dispensing data for England, during October, 2011, is due to publish this month. 


Practice level data for September was published by the NHS Information Centre in December for the first time. The aim of the publication is to deliver a ministerial commitment to greater transparency in the public sector and also to support the Department's vision for the use of GP practice level prescribing data to support growth.


Covering all general practices in England, the dataset for each practice includes:

  • All prescribed and dispensed medicines (by chemical name), dressings and appliances (at section level)
  • The total number of items that were prescribed and then dispensed
  • The total Net Ingredient Cost and the total Actual Cost of these items
  • This data does not list each individual prescription and does not contain any patient identifiable data
  • Practices are identified in the prescribing datasets by their national code. Supplementary file(s) contain further practice identifiers, such as names and addresses. This supplementary information can be linked to the prescribing dataset using the national practice code.

The site warns that practice prescribing data requires careful interpretation, and the information should not be looked at in isolation.  The dataset is also very large (over 500MB) and analysis will require specialist data-handling software.


These large files which require specialist software will be very useful to large commercial organisations, whether they are manufacturers, wholesalers or the large multiples and I presume that this is the reason for the release of this data.


Doctors are invited to comment on the data by emailing:     

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