Short Life Working Group on Prescription Medicine Dependence and Withdrawal - Consultation on Draft Recommendations

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Closes 4 Jun 2021

Recommendation 1

Increasing the availability and use of data on the prescribing of medicines that can cause dependence or withdrawal to support greater transparency and accountability and help ensure practice is consistent and in line with guidance.

Current Landscape in Scotland

A dedicated team in Public Health Scotland already make available a wide range of data and analysis on prescribing patterns in Scotland.  Scottish Government commissioned visualisations on a suite of National Therapeutics Indicators (NTIs) which are displayed as a dashboard.  Scottish Government has also commissioned the Atlas of Variation maps which aim to highlight geographical variation that exists in the provision of health services and associated health outcomes, this information is available to all to enable comparisons.  Prescribing data is also made available in a range of formats including monthly prescribing activity data and dedicated focus on medicines used in mental health.  In addition to undertaking analysis of the data themselves, which is made available on their website, PHS also make the raw data available to enable independent analysis. 

As a result of the pro-active work undertaken by Public Health Scotland and Scottish Government, Scotland is already in a strong position in relation to the use of data on the prescribing of medicines.  A screen shot showing an example from the National Therapeutics Indicators page is shown in Annex C.

The Scottish Government has commissioned the development of the Scottish Therapeutics Utility (STU) which is a computer program that interrogates data from GP IT systems with a focus on repeat prescribing and, more recently, high risk prescribing.  It is available license-free to all NHS Boards and GP Practices in Scotland.  It generates a suite of standardised reports to facilitate targeted medicine management activity.

Work already taken as a result of the SLWG

The team in Public Health Scotland with officials considered the analysis produced as part of the Public Health England review and then replicated for Scotland, together with an update to include the most recent years’ figures.  This enabled the SLWG to consider differences between England and Scotland and how recommendations in Scotland needed to be adjusted.  A summary of the analysis by Public Health Scotland is included within this consultation at Annex A.  The time series in the analysis will continue to be updated so that change can be seen.

Work to be taken forward/recommendations

In line with National Statistics protocol, composition, and publication of statistics by Public Health Scotland will continue to be reviewed with consideration to user need.  This will mean that clinical professionals and researchers can use the breadth of data and data indicators to improve patient care and treatment by evaluating interventions, measuring long-term outcomes in clinical trials, assessing the safety of new medical interventions and supporting the understanding of patterns of health and illness across the whole population. The suite of indicators and reports will be developed within STU to support front line practitioners identify patients that need review of their treatment.

1.1. Do you agree with this recommendation?
1.2. How effective do you think that action on recommendation 1 will be?
1.3. Please enter any comments on recommendation 1.

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