NHS Prescription Services, part of the NHS Business Services Authority, process prescriptions dispensed in the community and returned to them for reimbursement. The data collected as part of this process is provided through an online application, ePACT2 (electronic Prescribing Analysts and CosT tool) which gives authorised users access to prescription data.
ePACT is a service for pharmaceutical and prescribing advisors which allows real time on-line analysis of the previous sixty months prescribing data held on NHS Prescription Services' Prescribing Database. Data is updated on a monthly basis (6 weeks after the dispensing month).
Prescriptions written in England and dispensed in England, Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland are included.
Primary care data covers prescriptions prescribed by GPs, nurses, pharmacists and others (excluding dentists) and dispensed in the community. For data at CCG level, prescriptions written by a prescriber located in a particular CCG but dispensed outside that CCG will be included in the CCG in which the prescriber is based. Note that the sum of the CCG data provided in this publication will not match the England total available elsewhere as a small proportion of the national data cannot be attributed to a specific CCG.
While most of the data relates to prescribing and dispensing activity in primary care, additional hospital data (secondary care) is also available for those prescriptions written in hospital but dispensed in the community (formerly known as “FP10HP” prescriptions). This data has been included at national and Area Team level reporting.
All prescriptions which are prescribed in England and dispensed in the community in the UK need to be submitted to NHS Prescription Services if the dispenser is to be reimbursed and so coverage should be complete. If a prescription was issued, but not presented for dispensing or was not submitted to NHS Prescription Services by the dispenser, then it is not included in the data. The prescription item is recorded in the month in which NHS Prescription Services received it. In the majority of cases prescriptions will be issued, dispensed and submitted to NHS Prescription Services in the same month. However, prescriptions can be presented for dispensing up to six months after issue, and the dispensing organisation may submit the prescription for payment late. Prescription data may be attributed to organisations which have since closed. An issuing organisation may have closed before a prescription is dispensed and NHS Prescription Services may also receive prescriptions late from an organisation or a prescription pad from a closed organisation may still be in use by a prescriber previously at that organisation.
NHS Prescription Services quality assures the data they provide. They state that due to the complex and manual processes involved there may be random inaccuracies in capturing prescription information which are then reflected in the data. Currently the prescription processing activity is internally audited to 99% accuracy (i.e. at least 99% of prescriptions are recorded accurately).
NHS Digital believes that there is no reason to suggest that any analyses have been adversely affected by the data quality issues raised.
Further data quality details are available from NHS Prescription Services.