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GP efforts to raise prescribing standards have reversed rising NHS medicine costs, official figures suggest.

Prescription costs fell by £30m in the first quarter in which GPs were being assessed on locally agreed plans to improve prescribing efficiency.

NHS Information Centre figures show the number of items prescribed rose by 11.7m in this time. It suggests GPs cut the average item cost by 6.2%.

The DH praised GPs’ efforts, but said further progress could be made.

GPs were awarded QOF points in the new quality and productivity (QP) domain for targeting three areas to improve quality and lower costs of practice prescribing.

Meetings were held with neighbouring practices and plans agreed with PCTs last summer. These were enacted in January to March 2012.

During this period, NHS community prescribing spend fell by £30m to £2.08bn compared to the same period in 2011. This occurred despite the number of items prescribed rising from 229m to 241m.

A DH spokesman welcomed the savings. ‘Cost effective prescribing ensures that patients get the right treatment, while at the same time freeing up resources that can be put back into patient care.

‘The introduction of new indicators into the QOF was one of a number of different factors which have contributed to more cost effective prescribing.

‘The prescribing element of the QP scheme has now been replaced, but part of the contract agreement for 2012/13 was that all practices continue to ensure cost effective prescribing.’

Full story at GP Online