This website places cookies on your device to help us improve our service to you. To find out more about the cookies, see our Privacy and Cookies notice
ISD Scotland better information, better decisions, better health

Prescribing and Medicines

Publication Schedule

NHS National Services Scotland ISD Scotland & NHS National Services Scotland

Timetable of prescribing publications

Below is a timetable of planned prescribing publications.

Topic Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
SAPG report on Antimicrobial Use and Resistance in Humans Includes the following data:
Trends in prescribing of antibiotics in both primary and secondary care.
Trends in antimicrobial resistance.
Trends in number of prescribed items as Defined Daily Doses (DDD).
Comparisons of prescriber types.
Key clinicial priorities (for reported year).
Dispenser Remuneration
Dispenser fees for community pharmacies, dispensing doctors and appliance suppliers.
Number of items dispensed.
Drug costs and applied discounts.
Prescription Cost Analysis (including Top Ten, Generic Prescribing and Summary Statistics)
PCA: - counts and costs of individual drug preparations.
Generic data tables: - percentage of total drugs prescribed generically.
Summary Statistics : - average costs by patient and by item by NHS Board.
- trend data.
- number of community pharmacies by NHS Board
Top ten tables: - 10 most common drugs by cost and number of items.
Minor Ailments
Number of patients registered under MAS by NHS Board and over time.
Detailed breakdown of numbers of items and costs of drugs dispensed under MAS.
Mental Health
Numbers of patients, items dispensed and costs of drugs for five topic areas:
-Hypnotics and anxiolytics,
-Drugs for ADHD,
-Drugs for Dementia,

Key:A - Annual PublicationQ - Quarterly publication

Clicking on the links in the table above will take you to a page with further information about that publication, and links to the publication summary, report and data tables.

The quarterly publication of the Dispenser Remuneration publication marks the first release of data, after which it is available to request. The table below shows when data is released:

Month Data released
March  October - December
June  January - March
September  April - June
December  July - September

Additional prescribing data

Drugs indicated in the treatment of obesity

Until September 2011 a topic report on drugs indicated in the treatment of obesity was produced. Three drugs were indicated for obesity: orlistat, rimonabant, and sibutramine. The European Medicines agency withdrew marketing authorisations for rimonabant in 2009 and sibutramine in 2010. Orlistat became available over the counter in 2007. Since 2009 there has been a significant and sustained decrease in the number of items prescribed for obesity, so much so that a specific report on this subject was deemed no longer necessary. The final obesity topic report, including data on the prescribing of drugs used for the treatment of obesity, for financial years 2001/02 to 2010/11, inclusive can be found here:

Drugs indicated for the treatment of obesity - Financial Years 2001/02 - 2010/11

More recent information on drugs used to treat obesity can be found within the Prescription Cost Analysis data tables.

In addition to publications on the ISD Prescribing pages, data from the prescribing team is also published elsewhere:

Cardiovascular prescribing

The Heart Disease Statistics publication is produced by the Population Health team within ISD. This includes data on cardiovascular prescribing, including gross ingredient cost and defined daily doses, with comparisons across NHS Boards and CHPs. For more information see the ISD website.

Prescribing for opioid dependence

Data on drugs used for treatment of opioid dependence (including methadone hydrochloride) is published on the ScotPHO website as part of their section on drugs. This includes data on the numbers of items dispensed, gross ingredient cost, and defined daily doses, presented by NHS Board. Data on costs and fees involved in dispensing methadone hydrochloride are also published. For further details see the ScotPHO website.

Format of publications

Publications generally consist of a publication summary, a publication report and accompanying data tables. The publication summary is a brief two page PDF document including key points from the data tables and some key background information. The publication report is a longer PDF including key points and further commentary on the data, more detailed background information, and meta-data. The data tables are generally Excel workbooks including the data, charts and a notes page.

Patient Level Data

Since April 2009, patient based analysis has been carried out using prescribing data held in the Prescribing Information System (PIS). Patient based analysis has been made possible through the recent availability of comprehensive patient identifiable data. All NHS patients have a unique Community Health Index (CHI) number which is available on a prescription. This makes it possible to identify which prescription items have been dispensed for individual patients, so we can now publish the actual number of patients who have been dispensed a particular drug.

The only way to capture CHI numbers held on prescriptions used to be through the scanning of prescription images, but in more recent years it has also been possible to capture CHI numbers from electronic messages developed as part of the ePharmacy Programme. Prior to April 2009, the proportion of prescriptions with a valid CHI number recorded (known as the ‘CHI Capture Rate’) was not high enough to make patient based analysis reliable. Generally we consider a CHI capture rate of over 90% high enough to permit accurate patient analyses.

Currently CHI capture rates vary by prescriber type, geography and type of drug. CHI completeness is highest for GP prescribing. This is because an electronic message, including the patient CHI number, is generated each time a GP prints a prescription. As a result, over 95% of items prescribed by GPs now have a valid CHI number associated with them. The CHI capture rate is lower for some types of drugs (such as dementia drugs or methadone) because these are often prescribed through clinics rather than via the electronic systems used by GPs and so rely on CHI numbers picked up from scanned prescription images. These types of prescriptions are also often handwritten, which makes it harder to capture the CHI number through the prescription scanning process.

© ISD Scotland 2010
Information Services Division,
NHS National Services Scotland,
Gyle Square,
1 South Gyle Crescent,
Edinburgh EH12 9EB,
Tel: 0131 275 7050  
Contact Us

About Information Services Division | Contact Us | Accessibility | Complaints
Copyright | Terms and Conditions | Privacy | Freedom of Information

ISD is a division of NHS NSS
Working at the very heart of the health service, NSS delivers services critical to frontline patient care and in support of the efficient and effective operation of NHS Scotland. Visit the NSS Website for more information