Photo from the ODT files
Southern GPs are being asked to change their prescribing
habits to free up funds for other health services.
Reducing Southern general practices' $44 million annual
medicines bill would help relieve ''considerable financial
pressure'' on the Southern District Health Board, a letter to
GPs this week from Bpac says.
Bpac, a Dunedin-based medical education organisation, has
been contracted by the board for the six-month project.
Versions of the letter have been sent to more than 800 GPs,
practice nurses and pharmacists in the South.
Using practice-specific prescribing data, Bpac would meet
individual practices to discuss their prescribing.
From its analysis of Southern prescribing, Bpac had
identified that medicines were mostly prescribed
''However, we have noted that there are some small but very
specific changes that can be made that have the potential to
save a significant amount of money, without compromising
outcomes for your patients.
''We hope you'll find this a useful and interesting exercise.
We also hope that you will be open to considering making
changes that have the potential to free up money that will
ultimately allow the DHB to provide more services for your
patients,'' the letter says.
Potential savings are as high as several million dollars a
year, and should make care safer for patients, Bpac manager
Tony Fraser told the Otago Daily Times.
''We have identified areas of prescribing where if we make
different choices it would be more cost effective.
''These are areas that are well supported by evidence. It is
perhaps areas where there is new evidence on treatment or
''If we don't have some sound evidence that it's going to
improve, or at least give the same outcome as the current
pattern of prescribing, [then] it's just not on the agenda,''
Mr Fraser said.
New Zealanders were targeted by drug advertisers touting
newer medicines which were were not necessarily the safest or
''It has a very large impact,'' Mr Fraser said when asked
about the impact of advertising on prescribing.
Bpac aimed to counter the influence of drug advertisers. ''We
want to get our message out there as well ... because
otherwise it's very one-sided.''
Bpac wanted GPs to see the relationship between the medicine
bill and the availability of other essential services for
Asked if Bpac was targeting multi-prescribing for older
people, Mr Fraser said it was not a particular focus of the
Multi-prescribing was a problem to address in future, with
careful planning involving support from various health
Amity Health Centre GP Dr Susie Lawless said when contacted
Bpac provided a valuable information service for GPs, and she
was comfortable with its additional focus on Southern
''As GPs, I think we are all very aware of minimising
medication overuse or wastage, and personalised, specific
feedback is a useful tool to address this.
''What we would be concerned about is any move to constrain
prescribing that compromised patient care, but I see no
evidence that this is approaching the issue in this way,'' Dr