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Prescribing overspend slashed by half for sick man Angus

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The outlook for the prescribing sick man of Scotland continues to improve after health chiefs reported another encouraging upturn in the drive to cut Angus medicine waste.

In her latest report to Angus Integration Joint Board members, chief officer Vicky Irons said prescribing costs per patient were now running at less than 10% above the Scottish average, with hopes a £3 million-plus overspend will be slashed by more than half.

At the height of the prescribing crisis in mid-2017, Angus costs per patient were higher per head than anywhere else in Scotland, running at some 14% above the national average.

At the tine, experts said the high rate was due to a range of complex factors, but tackling a so-called “pill for every ill” approach was critical to driving costs down.

Work undertaken in care homes and the success of public engagement events have been part of a “significant and sustained level of activity” to save on costs, IJB members were told.

Ms Irons said: “Every general practice committed to a series of prescribing initiatives in 2018/19 for completion by the end of January 2019.

“Early indications are the approach has continued to deliver significant benefits in terms of financial savings.”

Citing the example of one drug, Ms Irons said 81 of 143 patients on the thyroid hormone liothyronine who had their treatment stopped following clinical review had delivered a saving of almost £60,000.

The top 50 gross income drugs accounted for more than £2.5 million of spending in the last quarter and the report revealed a reduction of 18% in that area over the past 12 months.

Ms Irons highlighted the efforts of local general practices and the Tayside Prescribing Management Group (PMG) in bringing about the turnaround.

The year end overspend is projected at around £1.5m, compared to an underlying £3.3m figure in 2017/18.

“While there are still risks associated with this projection it is a marked improvement from the previous year,” said the chief officer.

Angus Health and Social Care Partnership Clinical Director, Dr Alison Clement said, “Ongoing extensive work continues within Angus and Tayside to reduce the cost of prescribing.

“The price of medicines remains very variable and unpredictable, with frequent changes, and so the position could change within this year and future years.

“However, we remain cautiously optimistic that the hard work underway is placing us in a good position to manage prescribing costs.”

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