Skip to main content
Publication, Part of

General Pharmaceutical Services in England 2008/09 - 2018/19 [NS] [PAS]

Publication Date:
Geographic Coverage:
Geographical Granularity:
Country, Regions
Date Range:
01 Apr 2008 to 31 Mar 2019

Data sources and quality

Data sources

This publication is the only annual national level dataset that shows General Pharmaceutical Services information at the various area aggregations, including NHS England Commissioning Region and NHS England Region levels. It also pulls together data from various sources on specific parts of the community pharmacy and appliance contractor contractual frameworks, dispensing and appeals.

The data presented in this publication is from the following sources.

NHS Prescription Services, a division of the NHS Business Services Authority
  • Community Pharmacy contractors and appliance contractors
  • Dispensing fees (PD1)
  • Medicine Use Review
  • New Medicines Services
  • Appliance Use Review
  • Stoma Appliance Customisation
  • National Influenza Adult Vaccination Services
  • Electronic Prescription Service

These datasets are downloaded from NHS Prescription Services. See here for more details on the different data sources.

NHS Resolution
  • Outcome of appeals against decisions made by PCTs/NHS England by type of application submitted under the 2013 regulations at a national level.

This data is received from NHS Resolution as an excel spreadsheet via email.

NHS Digital

Data quality

This section provides data quality information for the data sources used in this publication. It aims to provide users with an evidence-based assessment of the quality of the statistical output by reporting against the quality dimensions of the European Statistical System (ESS) that are appropriate to this output.

In doing so, this meets our obligation to comply with the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) Code of Practice for Official Statistics, particularly Pillar 2, Principle Q3, which states: “Producers of statistics and data should explain clearly how they assure themselves that statistics and data are accurate, reliable, coherent and timely”.


This publication allows commissioners and policy makers to monitor levels of service delivery to target groups, and monitor level of appeals, highlighting changes over time.

Accuracy and reliability

NHS Digital believe that there is no reason to suggest that the majority of the analyses have been adversely affected by the data quality issues raised below. The only exception is Enhanced Services (ES), under the 2013 regulations only NHS England can commission pharmaceutical services. Services can also be commissioned from community pharmacies by either a local authority or a CCG but these cannot be termed pharmaceutical services; they should be referred to as Locally Commissioned Services and these are excluded from the report.

Data from NHS England via PHS1 collection

NHS Digital collects specific pharmacy contract data from NHS England Regions via mandatory collection (R01044) as this data is not available from other sources. This collection is included on NHS Digital’s Burden and Advice Service’s (BAAS – formerly ROCR) list of assessed collections. All current collections that have no changes to them will be looked at as part of a three year review of collections and standards (this is a statutory responsibility of NHS Digital as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012).

NHS England Regions quality assure their data on submission and the data is validated by NHS Digital as part of the collection process.

Local providers and commissioners have informed NHS Digital that the ES data provided is an under reporting of the number of services actually commissioned. NHS Digital are working with colleagues across all sectors to improve data completeness.

Data from NHS Prescription Services

NHS Prescription Services process prescriptions dispensed in the community and returned to them for reimbursement. Prescriptions written in England, Wales, and Scotland and dispensed in England are included. This publication only includes those prescriptions dispensed by a community pharmacy or an appliance contractor.

NHS Prescription Services have internally audited their prescription processing accuracy to 99.7% over the period Jun 2018 – May 2019.

The Independent and Multiple community pharmacy contractor count is extracted from NHS Prescription Services contractor data. A multiple contractor is defined as a pharmacy contractor who owns six or more pharmacies across England. To validate this data prior to 2017/18, NHS Digital made assumptions to which contractors are multiples and independents based on owner names. 2018/19 data uses the independent/multiple counts as defined by NHS Prescription Services.

Data from NHS Resolution

England level data for the outcome of appeals is received from NHS Resolution as they make the decisions on the outcome of the appeals. It is a count of all the appeals made and so data quality is assumed to be 100%.

Timeliness and punctuality

This report is published annually. The publication date is determined by the availability of the data and allows adequate time for the compilation of the report.

This publication has been released in line with the pre-announced publication date and is therefore deemed to be punctual.

Accessibility and clarity

The publication is available annually via the NHS Digital website, as a combination of web pages and downloadable reports and data files. The publication may be requested in large print or other formats through NHS Digital’s contact centre: (please include ‘Pharmacy’ in the subject line).

Coherence and comparability

Comparability over time

This publication includes data, where possible, from 2008/09. Data availability over time varies due to organisational, regulatory and service changes.

Users should always use the figures in the latest publication to ensure they are the most up to date figures available.

Comparability with other data sources

The data for dispensed prescriptions presented here differs from that presented in other NHS Digital prescribing publications. This is because General Pharmaceutical Services only includes prescriptions dispensed by community pharmacies and appliance contractors, whereas other publications include all prescriptions dispensed in the community (including community pharmacies, appliance contractors and dispensing doctors).

The data on openings and closures of community pharmacies presented in this report was collected by NHS Digital from each NHS England Commissioning Region in England. Data on openings and closures is also available from NHS Prescription Services. These numbers are based on payments to community pharmacies and include changes of ownership. Outstanding payments to contractors may continue beyond the end of the financial year. This can lead to small discrepancies between the figures in this report and NHS Prescription Services data regarding the number of community pharmacies in England active as at 31 March each year.

Users can misinterpret the data as relating to numbers of patients but care should be taken as the data relates to volumes of medicines not to individuals.

Comparability with devolved administrations

Data is not directly comparable across the devolved administrations due to differences in the pharmacy services provided and how the data is collected and processed.

Wales: Community pharmacy services publication

Scotland: Remuneration and reimbursements details for all dispensing in Scotland

Northern Ireland: Number of pharmacies, pharmacists and appliance suppliers

Assessment of user needs and perceptions

This publication is used by stakeholders as the only national level dataset that shows information about community pharmacies and appliance contractors in England and the NHS services they provide.

NHS Digital is keen to gain a better understanding of the users of this report and their needs. Please send any comments to (please include ’Pharmacy’ in the subject line). Alternatively, you can call our contact centre on 0300 303 5678 or write to NHS Digital, 1 Trevelyan Square, Boar Lane, Leeds, LS1 6AE.

Performance, cost and respondent burden

The NHS Prescription Services data used in this publication is collected as part of the process to manage payments to pharmacists for their NHS contracted activity. NHS Resolution Appeals data is taken from the data systems used to decide the appeals outcome. The publication therefore uses existing administrative sources.

Information about the administrative sources and their use for statistical purposes is included in NHS Digital’s Statement of Administrative Sources.

NHS Digital operates a small manual collection of Pharmaceutical Services data for areas of the contract that are not paid for via NHS Prescription Services. This collection is included on NHS Digital’s Burden and Advice Service’s (BAAS – formerly ROCR) list of assessed collections. All current collections that have no changes to them will be looked at as part of a three year review of collections and standards (this is a statutory responsibility of NHS Digital as set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012).

Confidentiality, transparency and security

This is a National Statistics publication and therefore the code of practice for official statistics is adhered to from collecting the data to publishing.

The standard NHS Digital data security and confidentiality policies have been applied in the production of these statistics.

The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to obtain any further information required.

Last edited: 5 November 2019 1:16 pm