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GPs take over budgets to help manage scarce resources

GP practices are teaming up with local healthcare commissioners in a major, new approach to improve the quality of prescribing and manage scarce financial resources in the Vale of York.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) holds the funds to deliver local healthcare services and has a statutory responsibility to do so within the resources that are allocated to the area.

But with demands on the local healthcare system that have led to a £44million shortfall in financial resources, funding for services need to be prioritised to meet the needs of the most vulnerable patients.

In a radical shift to help prioritise resources, GPs and commissioners have agreed to collaborate further to focus their efforts on prescribing, seeking to identify areas of how they can improve the quality of prescribing and at the same time reduce prescription waste and inefficiency.

Dr Shaun O’Connell, Joint Medical Director and Clinical Lead for Prescribing at NHS Vale of York CCG said:  “Prescribing Indicative Budgets have been introduced to groups of practices to help them to identify areas where the standards of prescribing can be improved and a result identify any potentially wasteful or cost-inefficient prescribing.  

“In essence groups of GP practices have been given the prescribing budget, in an indicative form, to actively manage and it is estimated that this will identify considerable savings which can be diverted to priority areas of health need.”

Prescribing budgets managed by GPs are in an indicative form because commissioners hold the legal responsibility for the budget.

Groups of GPs taking part in this work are asked to manage the prescribing budget in line with the York and Scarborough formulary, and by using cost-effective medicines and prescribing in line with local policies.

Dr O’Connell added: “Prescribing in line with the York and Scarborough formulary will ensure high quality cost-effective prescribing and this will help to release efficiency savings from the prescribing budget.

“Any efficiency savings made will be shared by the CCG and the group of GP practices taking part in this new way of managing resources. 

“The CCG expects to use the savings to reduce the local healthcare system’s deficit and practices will be able to use their share of savings to reinvest back into  primary care services.”

Dr Andrew Field, a local GP and Chair of City and Vale GP Alliance Board said: “We are excited about the opportunity to have an increased responsibility of our prescribing budgets in order to ensure our patients are receiving the most appropriate medication for their needs.

“Patients should be assured they will still receive the medications they require and this is about improving the quality of prescribing and reducing any waste of our precious NHS resources.

“Any savings we make from reducing prescribing inefficiencies will be reinvested into improving patient services.”

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