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CCG’s finance chair warns £4.4m prescribing overspend is ‘serious problem’


By Awil Mohamoud
Reporter
15 December 2020

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A clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) finance chair has warned that the organisation is facing a £4.4m overspend on prescribing in part due to ‘inappropriate dispensing and polypharmacy’. 

North East Essex CCG’s finance committee chair Martyn Hanlon highlighted the problem during the latest governing board meeting (1 December) and said that the medicines management team is arranging visits to GP practices to help them resolve it.

But he added that this is an area where the CCG is ‘not doing particularly well’ and referenced a previous incidence where ‘one practice alone’ had put the organisation [into an] over £3m overspend. 

‘It is a serious problem and if we don’t get a real grip on it we could end up in a lot of trouble,’ Mr Hanlon said.

Mr Hanlon told the governing body there were ‘all sorts of complex reasons’ for the prescribing overspend, ‘but one of them is inappropriate dispensing and polypharmacy’.

He also asked the board and elected members to support the medicines management team going into the practices to find a solution because ‘there is a realisation that they are very busy, but this not just about money’. 

He added: ‘It is, more importantly, about quality and safety issues, because overprescribing and inappropriate dispensing also puts patients at risk.’

A spokesperson for NHS North East Essex CCG told Healthcare Leader: ‘We are working closely with local GP practices to best understand the reason for the overspend and identify potential areas for improvement and savings, while continuing to ensure the very best of patient care.’

A 2018 National Audit Office (NAO) report found that CCGs were collectively spending £8.5bn or 10.4% of their gross expenditure on prescribing costs.

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