OpenPrescribing and Bennett Institute Papers

It has been a busy month for paper publication at The Bennett Institute. We have written a brief description of the most recent papers below. Please sharewith colleagues and get in touch if you have any relevant observations! Remember you can read all our academic papers related to OpenPrescribing on our research page.

Hospital medicines data: We are frequently contacted at OpenPrescribing about when we are going to make a hospital version. Unlike primary care, access to hospital medicines data is restricted. The BMJ have just published our Bennett Institute article about why we think The NHS deserves better use of hospital medicines data.

21st century analytics: High-quality practical data analysis has the potential to considerably improve the quality, safety and efficiency of care within the NHS. However, current use of data analysis to support decision making in the NHS is variable, and often poor. Earlier this month, JRSM published our paper which identifies the technical, cultural and regulatory barriers to the better use of analysis and provides potential solutions to these barriers.

Statins: On OpenPrescribing we have a measure of “low and medium intensity " statins which are not recommended by NICE. This month the BJGP have published our article Prescription of suboptimal statin treatment regimens. Briefly we found that breaches of NICE guidance on choice of statin remain common, with substantial variation between practices. However some practices and CCGs have implemented rapid change, indicating it is possible to rapidly implement NICE guidance on “high-intensity” statin. In the article we discuss potential solutions to support practices and patients use of NICE recommendations, including advocating for a national strategic approach, using data and evidence to optimise care.

New CCGs and PCNs

On April 1st 2020 the NHS underwent some reorganisation with many Clinical Commissioning Groups merging to form new CCGs. We have rapidly delivered new dashboards as soon as the information was made available by NHS Digital for all these new CCGs and they can be found on the CCG search page. The new CCG will have the prescribing attributed to it from the previous and now closed CCGs that make up the new organisation.

We have been contacted by some PCN member practices advising us that they have moved PCNs. We use the NHS Organisation Data Service (ODS) to maintain our list of PCN members. It is not possible for us to manually curate the list of PCNs members on so you must contact the NHS ODS and once it has been changed in this central database, it will appear on OpenPrescribing at the next update.

Bespoke Email Alerts

At OpenPrescribing we know that clinicians can be overwhelmed with guidance and data about many different aspects of care. We have therefore developed an innovative email alert service for every single practice, primary care network (PCN) and clinical commissioning group (CCG) in England. We deliver bespoke custom emails to your inbox about your own organisation’s prescribing, highlighting which aspects are most different to your peers. Anyone can sign up!

To sign up to you organisation’s alerts all you need to to is:

  1. Go to your organisation’s homepage. Search here for your: Practice, Primary Care Network, Clinical Commissioning Group. Or, find your PCN and CCG on your practice homepage.
  2. Enter your email in the subscribe box at the bottom of the dashboard

We have written a blog here with some more information about the alerts, our methods and examples. Please feel free to include in your own newsletters/bulletins and share with colleagues such as prescribing leads, PCN pharmacists and clinical directors.

Prescribing data update!

We’ve updated OpenPrescribing with May data. Head over to to see more and encourage colleagues to sign up for their organisation’s bespoke email alert.


Our paper on factors associated with COVID-19 death in 17 million patients, which we previously shared via preprint, has been published in Nature. You can read the media coverage and short articles on our OpenSAFELY press page.

Our first medication study is now available as a preprint! We assessed Inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) use and risk COVID-19 related death among 966,461 patients with COPD or asthma. The results of the study do not support a major role for regular ICS use in protecting against COVID-19 related deaths among people with asthma or COPD. Importantly our results should provide reassurance to people using ICS that the use of these inhalers do not appear to put them at undue risk of negative outcomes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

We have more studies on medicines coming shortly, keep up to date: follow @opensafely on Twitter.

CEBM COVID-19 Evidence Service

The Bennett Institute team has contributed to evidence reviews as part of the Oxford evidence service supporting the COVID-19 response. They include:

COVID-19 Trials Tracker

Our TrialsTracker team has launched new tracker for COVID-19 research at This takes data from the WHO ICTRP database on COVID-19 trials — including vaccines and treatments — and ensures the data is cleaned and key attributes made available for secondary analysis.