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Enhanced services down by over 5 per cent

By News team

Commissioning of local enhanced pharmacy services in England decreased by more than 5 per cent in 2011–12 compared with the previous year, latest statistics show.

Data from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that the number of local enhanced services provided in 2011–12 dropped by 1,679 (5.4 per cent) to 29,283 — breaking a five-year trend of increased commissioning.

"This may be due to the uncertainty around the new structure of the NHS," the report says. "Primary care trusts, which are due to be abolished, may have been cautious commissioning services with new contractors in light of these changes."

Of the 20 services that were commissioned in 2011–12, the most common were: smoking cessation services (19.2 per cent); supervised administration of medicines such as methadone (19.1 per cent); minor ailment schemes (12.1 per cent); and patient group directions (11.9 per cent).

Services such as independent and supplementary prescribing, prescriber support and anticoagulant monitoring are less frequently commissioned. This may be because of lower demand for such services or because providers have to meet additional training requirements, the report suggests.

It also reveals that:

  1. Delivery of medicines use reviews increased by 15.4 per cent in 2011–12 compared with the previous year, to a total of 2.4 million.
  2. In its first six months (October 2011–April 2012), the new medicine service was completed 233,756 times.
  3. A total of 716 100-hour pharmacy applications were completed in 2011–12. Of these, around 92 per cent (662) were approved, 3 per cent (19) were refused and 5 per cent (35) were withdrawn.
  4. At 31 March 2012 there were 11,236 community pharmacies in England, up 2.6 per cent from the year before. Of these, 61 per cent were multiples and 39 per cent independents.
  5. A total of 885 million prescription items were dispensed by community pharmacies in 2011–12. This compares with 81.9 million items dispensed in general practice, and is up 4 per cent from 2010–11.

The document on prescribing in primary care follows a report on the use of medicines in hospitals, released earlier this month (November 2012). It reveals that total prescribing costs in 2011 were £13.1bn and that hospital use accounted for 33.3 per cent of the total cost, up from 31.79 per cent in 2010. The cost of medicines rose by 1.9 per cent overall but by 6.9 per cent in hospitals.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11112558

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