Committee of Public Accounts Press Notice

A STATEMENT FROM EDWARD LEIGH MP

CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS

National Audit Office report: Prescribing costs in primary care

Today’s NAO report clearly demonstrates that GPs are often not providing value for money for the NHS in the way they prescribe drugs and medicines. Every day we hear of people being denied vital treatments in the NHS on the grounds of cost, and yet now we learn that at least £200 million could be saved each year through GPs prescribing cheaper, generic drugs that are just as effective as more expensive branded ones.

Some small changes to how GPs prescribe could free up a lot of money for our struggling NHS. But for this to happen GPs will need to be less influenced by the blandishments of the drugs industry and more focused on getting value for money in their prescribing.

Enormous sums are also being wasted through drugs being prescribed to patients but not used. By looking at only one measure of wastage - those drugs returned to the NHS unused - the NAO found its cost to the NHS to be over £100 million a year. Until the Department of Health gets a better grip on the scale of the problem and the reasons it occurs, they won’t be able to put a stop to this waste.

Notes for Editors

Requests for further comment from Edward Leigh should be made via Alex Paterson, Select Committee Media Officer, on 020 7219 1589 or 07917 488 488.