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Scottish pay fails to keep up with workload

New annual report shows the dispensary burden

September 27th 2017

Tagged: NHS statistical reports Scotland

By Ailsa Colquhoun

Dispenser pay inflation is failing to keep up with workload, new statistics from NHS Scotland reveal. A new publication, which merges two reports, Prescribing & Medicines: Dispensing Reimbursement, Remuneration and Volume, and Prescribing & Medicines: Prescription Cost Analysis, into one annual report, shows that prescribing volumes increased by 1.2 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17 to 103.4 million items, while the NHS spend on dispensers pay (dispensing fees) rose by just 0.3 per cent to £0.6 million.

In total, the gross ingredient cost for items dispensed increased by 2.9 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17, to £1.1 billion. This is partly due to price adjustments for items with supply issues, new medicines and the move in supply of some high cost treatments from hospital to primary care. This is reflected in the average cost per item which has increased from £10.79 to £10.98 between 2015-16 and 2016-17. The separate cost reports for community pharmacies and dispensing GPs in Scotland are detailed below.

In 2016-17, the drug omeprazole was the most commonly prescribed drug with 3.61m dispensed items. This has been the most commonly prescribed drug since 2012-13. Pregabalin had the highest total gross ingredient cost in 2016-17 at £40.74m. Since 2011-12, salmeterol with fluticasone propionate had been the highest gross cost drug.

The rate of generic prescribing remains at a static 83.6 per cent in 2016-17.

Dispensing practice item2016-17 NHS spend £m     Community Pharmacy item 2016-17 NHS spend £m (excl. stock orders
& oxygen)
Gross tot23.3Gross total1243.4
Net total23.2Net total1245.7