Today we launch another exciting new feature on OpenPrescribing. NHS England recently shared a list of 19 classes of treatment which they think should not be prescribed by GPs. These treatments were advised against on the grounds that they are ineffective, and therefore wasteful, or at least “low priority”.

We think it’s good for everyone to be able to see what GP practices are prescribing: the GPs themselves, but also patients, journalists, commissioners of health services, the public, medicines optimisation teams, and indeed anyone who is interested in exploring and improving healthcare.

That’s why we are launching a tool that shows you, for every practice, exactly how much they are prescribing these “do not use” items. On every practice’s page you will now see a summary measure for their total spend. If you click through on this, then you can see how much that practice is prescribing on each individual one of the forbidden treatments. You can also see the same analyses for any Clinical Commissioning Group.

How might you use this?

If you are a GP, of course, you can use it to check if there is anything in your prescribing that you might want to change: here is the performance of one arbitrarily chosen GP surgery in Oxford where we work. GPs may be interested to see that this is effectively a very rapid, highly automated, open audit of your prescribing practice: useful for spotting problems (and also to show you’ve done an audit in your GMC appraisal!).

If you are a commissioner or working in health policy, you can look to see if there are any major outliers whose prescribing you might want to address at a strategic level: for example, here are the CCGs prescribing the most lidocaine plasters, and with our freely accessible OpenPrescribing tool you can also then drill down to individual practices to explore any issues in more detail.

If you are a journalist or blogger interested in homeopathy, then you might want to see exactly which CCGs are prescribing the most homeopathy; and then maybe even click to drill down into the data, and look at the individual GP practices which are prescribing it the most too. For anyone interested, we have just submitted our paper on “factors associated with prescribing homeopathy in NHS primary care” to the BMJ Xmas issue, part of our awesome production line of epidemiological analyses of prescribing data.

And there is more to come on the NHS England “do not use” measures. Over the coming weeks we’ll be sharing our report showing the change in national spend over time, on each of the forbidden treatments; the distribution of spend across practices and CCGs; the change in that distribution over time; and much more. We also have various papers on “factors associated with prescribing X…” under review. We will also be amending and improving the measures and their presentation, so as always, please do send us feedback!

Meanwhile, here is a link to the press release from the University of Oxford on the launch of our new tool. Hurrah!