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Practice Level Prescribing - October 2018

This is part of

Open data
Publication date:
Geographic coverage:
Geographical granularity:
Primary Care Organisations, GP practices
Date range:
01 Oct 2018 to 31 Oct 2018


Published: 24 December 2018 - Practice level prescribing data is a list of all medicines, dressings and appliances that are prescribed by all practices in England and dispensed in the community each month. From October 2018 this data release will be moved earlier to be roughly 7 weeks after the data time point. Future releases will be on the 24th of the month.

From October 2018, the self extracting file will no longer be available for security reasons. This is replaced with a zip file which users are able to download and extract all 3 files locally.

What does the data cover?

Practice prescribing data is a list of all medicines, dressings and appliances that are prescribed and dispensed each month. A record will only be produced when this has occurred and there is no record for a zero total.

For each practice in England, including GP practices, the following information is presented at presentation level for each medicine, dressing and appliance, (by presentation name):

  • the total number of items prescribed and dispensed
  • the total net ingredient cost
  • the total actual cost
  • the total quantity

The data covers NHS prescriptions written in England and dispensed in the community in the UK. Prescriptions written in England but dispensed outside England are included. The data includes prescriptions written by GPs and other non-medical prescribers (such as nurses and pharmacists) who are attached to practices.

Practices are identified only by their national code, so an additional data file - linked to the first by the practice code - provides further detail in relation to the practice.

Presentations are identified only by their BNF code, so an additional data file - linked to the first by the BNF code - provides the chemical name for that presentation.

Warning: Large file size (over 1GB).

Each monthly data set is large (over 10 million rows), but can be viewed using add-ons to existing software, such as the Microsoft PowerPivot add-on for Excel, to handle larger data sets. The Microsoft PowerPivot add-on for Excel is available using the link in the 'Related Links' section below.

Once PowerPivot has been installed, to load the large files, please follow the instructions below. Note that it may take at least 20 to 30 minutes to load one monthly file.

1. Start Excel as normal

2. Click on the PowerPivot tab

3. Click on the PowerPivot Window icon (top left)

4. In the PowerPivot Window, click on the "From Other Sources" icon

5. In the Table Import Wizard e.g. scroll to the bottom and select Text File

6. Browse to the file you want to open and choose the file extension you require e.g. CSV

Once the data has been imported you can view it in a spreadsheet.

Key facts

Using and interpreting the data

Practice prescribing data requires careful interpretation, and the information should not be looked at in isolation.

Administrative sources



Last edited: 17 December 2018 2:43 pm