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Welsh GPs open longer and prescribing more

NHS reports show rising activity

March 2nd 2017

Tagged: NHS statistical reports Wales

By Ailsa Colquhoun

GPs in Wales are prescribing over 22 million more prescription items compared to a decade ago, new statistics from NHS Wales reveal.

The number of items prescribed in Wales in 2015-16  was 79.2 million – up 22.2 million (39 per cent) compared to a decade earlier.  However, the net ingredient cost (NIC) of items prescribed by GPs in Wales in 2015-16 has increased only 5 per cent (30m) to £593m over the same time period.

The number of items per head (registered with a GP) in 2015-16 was 24.8 – up from 18.7 in 2005-06 (a 33 per cent increase). Items per head rose by 0.6 per cent during 2015-16.

The percentage of items prescribed generically stands at 82 per cent. Cardio-vascular  drugs make up the largest therapeutic class by volume, accounting for three in ten items prescribed. The most expensive class (NIC) is the central nervous system; at £125.4m in 2015-16, this represents an increase of 17 per cent from a decade earlier.

The biggest increase in cost over the 10 years is in the appliances class, which rose 143 per cent in 2015-16 (£18.3m) compared with 2005-06 (£7.5m).

The net ingredient cost per item ranged from £2.73 in the cardiovascular system class to £64.80 for items in the stoma appliances class.

A separate report has detailed Welsh GP opening hours. This finds that in  2016:

  • 85 per cent of GP practices were open for daily core hours or within an hour of them, an increase from 60 per cent in 2011
  • Only 3 per cent of GP practices were closed for half a day on one or more week days, a decrease compared to 4 per cent in 2015
  • 84 per cent of practices offered appointments at any time between 17:00 and 18:30 every week day, compared to 79 per cent in 2015
  • The percentage of practices offering appointments before 8:30 on at least two weekdays increased 3 percentage points to 19 per cent in 2016.

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