FOI 20251



Freedom of Information Disclosure Log

The NHSBSA's responses to Freedom of Information requests. read more


Open Government Licence 2.0 (United Kingdom) [Open Data]

FOI 20251


1.For each calendar year from 2015, what is the total NHS spend on prescription painkillers for patients currently on an NHS England waiting list awaiting surgery for a joint replacement?

2.For each calendar year from 2015, what is the total number of individuals on an NHS England waiting list who are being prescribed opiate painkillers to manage their pain?

3.For each calendar year from 2015, how many individuals currently on an NHS waiting list have been referred to a pain specialist to help manage their pain?

4.For each calendar year from 2015, what is the total cost of opioid medicines being prescribed to patients by GPs in England?

5.For each calendar year from 2015, what is the total number of people in England that are currently being prescribed opiate medicines?’

On 31 January 2022 you clarified the following:

Please could we have:

1.BNF 040702 - opioid analgesics

2.All prescriber types

3.The total number of people in England prescribed opiate medicines for each calendar year from 2015


Questions 1 - 3

I am writing to advise you that the information you requested is not held by the NHS Business Services Authority. The NHSBSA does not have access to patient waiting lists, and therefore we cannot determine which patients prescribed Opioid Analgesics are/were currently on a waiting list at the time of prescribing.

However, it is possible that NHS England may hold some or all of the information you require. They can be contacted at:

NHS England

PO Box 16738


B97 9PT

Telephone 0300 311 22 33


Questions 4 & 5

A copy of the information is attached.

NHSBSA Prescription Services process prescriptions for Pharmacy Contractors, Appliance Contractors, Dispensing Doctors and Personal Administration with information then used to make payments to pharmacists and appliance contractors in England for prescriptions dispensed in primary care settings (other arrangements are in place for making payments to Dispensing Doctors and Personal Administration). This involves processing over 1 billion prescription items and payments totalling over £9 billion each year. The information gathered from this process is then used to provide information on costs and trends in prescribing in England and Wales to over 25,000 registered NHS and Department of Health and Social Care users.

Data Source

Data in ePACT2 is sourced from the NHSBSA Information Services Data Warehouse and is derived from products prescribed on prescriptions and dispensed in the Community. The data captured from prescription processing is used to calculate reimbursement and remuneration. It includes items prescribed in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey / Alderney, Jersey and Isle of Man which have been dispensed in the community in England. English prescribing that has been dispensed in Wales, Scotland, Guernsey / Alderney, Jersey and Isle of Man is also included.

The Data excludes:

• Items not dispensed, disallowed and those returned to the contractor for further clarification.

• Prescriptions prescribed and dispensed in Prisons, Hospitals and Private prescriptions.

• Items prescribed but not presented for dispensing or not submitted to NHS Prescription Services by the dispenser.

Time Period

Calendar years 2015 to 2021.

Organisation Data

The data provided is for prescriptions prescribed in England and dispensed anywhere.


The BNF Code is a 15 digit code in which the first seven digits are allocated according to the categories in the BNF and the last 8 digits represent the medicinal product, form, strength and the link to the generic equivalent product.

This data is limited to the BNF Paragraph 040702 Opioid Analgesics.


Items shows the number of times a product appears on a prescription form not the quantity prescribed.

Net Ingredient Cost (£)

Net Ingredient cost (NIC) is the basic price of a drug as stated in Part II Clause 8 of the Drug Tariff but please note that where a price concession for items listed in Part VIII of the Drug Tariff has been agreed between the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee the NIC will reflect the concession price rather than the Drug Tariff price.

Patient Identification

Where patient identifiable figures have been reported they are based on the information captured during the prescription processing activities. Please note, patient details cannot be captured from every prescription form and based on the criteria used for this analysis, patient information (NHS Number) was only available for 92.57% of prescription items.

The patient count figures are based on a distinct count of NHS number as captured from the prescription image.

The figures for the number of identifiable patients should not be combined and reported at any other level than provided as this may result in the double-counting of patients. For example, a single patient could appear in the results for multiple calendar years.

Patient data is only available from April 2015 therefore 2015 will only have identified patient numbers from April – December 15 included.

Please note that this request and our response is published on our Freedom of Information disclosure log at:

If you have any queries regarding the data provided, or if you plan on publishing the data, please contact ensuring you quote the above reference. This is important to ensure that the figures are not misunderstood or misrepresented.

If you plan on producing a press or broadcast story based upon the data please contact This is important to ensure that the figures are not misunderstood or misrepresented.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and is subject to NHSBSA copyright. This information is licenced under the terms of the Open Government Licence detailed at:

Should you wish to re-use the information you must include the following statement: “ePACT2, NHSBSA Copyright 2022” This information is licenced under the terms of the Open Government Licence:

Failure to do so is a breach of the terms of the licence.

Information you receive which is not subject to NHSBSA Copyright continues to be protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from which the information originated.

Please obtain their permission before reproducing any third party (non NHSBSA Copyright) information.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

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Contact Information Governance
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Last Updated March 1, 2022, 08:31 (UTC)
Created March 1, 2022, 08:28 (UTC)