FOI 27810



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

FOI 27810

Thank you for your request for information about the following: FOI27642- Would it be possible to have this data broken down by month as well?

Your clarified request was received on 19 October 2022 and has been dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


A copy of the information is attached.

NHS 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

The data source was the NHSBSA Information Services Data Warehouse.


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

January 2015 to July 2022 inclusive.

Organisation Data

Only items that were dispensed in the community in England have been included in the data


Limited to the following BNF Chemical substances;

0401020A0 - Alprazolam

0401010L0 - Flurazepam hydrochloride

0401010N0 - Loprazolam mesilate

0401010P0 - Lormetazepam

0401010R0 - Nitrazepam

0401010T0 - Temazepam

0401020E0 - Chlordiazepoxide hydrochloride

0401020K0 - Diazepam

0401020P0 - Lorazepam

0401020T0 - Oxazepam

Patient count

Data is limited to prescriptions where an NHS Number was captured during NHSBSA prescription processing within the dataset 91.56% of prescription items had an identified NHS number

Data Quality for Patient ages

NHSBSA stores information on the age of the recipient of each prescription as it was read by computer from images of paper prescriptions or as attached to message sent through the electronic prescription system. The NHSBSA does not validate, verify or manually check the resulting information as part of the routine prescription processing. However an additional check is carried out on a yearly basis to check the capture rate and accuracy of the stored patient information. The results of this check for the most recent time period available (January 2020 to December 2020) show that for both paper and electronic prescriptions patient age was captured from 94.88% of prescription forms and the accuracy of age data captured was 99.95%.

There are some data quality issues with the ages of patients prescribed the products requested in this FOI. The NHSBSA holds prescription images for 18 months. A sample of the data was compared to the images of the paper prescription forms from which the data was generated where these images are still available. These checks revealed issues in the reliability of age data in particular the quality of the stored age data was poor for patients recorded as aged 2 years and under. When considering the accuracy of age data it is expected that a small number of prescriptions may be allocated against any given patient age incorrectly.

Patient Age Group

Age group is based on patient age as captured during prescription processing. Where a patient has aged between the age bands across the period, they will appear in both categories over time. Patients may appear in multiple months of prescribing and so months should not be added together to prevent introducing double counting.

Patient Gender

Gender is shown as captured at the time of processing. Where a patient has more than one recorded gender across the time period, they will appear in more than one category.

A patient is classified in one of four ways for gender by Personal Demographic Service (PDS)

0 – Unknown

1 – Male

2 – Female

9 – Indeterminate (unable to be classified as either male or female)

The NHSBSA also codifies gender for patients where we have been unable to match their NHS number to PDS as ‘Unknown’.

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: “NHSBSA Information Services Data Warehouse, 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

Field Value
Contact Information Governance
State active
Last Updated November 16, 2022, 16:00 (UTC)
Created November 16, 2022, 15:56 (UTC)