FOI 28831



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FOI 28831


I would like to request the following information under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000:

  1. The number of NHS England nicotine prescriptions (BNF section code: 4.10.2) by patient age for 2021 only using the ages 0 through to 25 inclusive.

  2. The number of NHS England hypnotic prescriptions (BNF section code: 4.1.1) by patient age for 2021 only using the ages 0 through to 25 inclusive.

On 16 November 2022 you clarified the following:

The data I requested is by individual one year bands from 0 through to 25 – so 26 separate bits of data.


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: ePACT2

Data in ePACT2 is sourced from the NHSBSA 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 year 2021 (January 2021 to December 2021).

The data is shown in two parts:

Part 1 shows number of items prescribed from BNF paragraph 041002 Nicotine dependence and individual patient ages for those items for the calendar year of 2021. (Ages 0 -25 only).

Part 2 shows number of items prescribed from BNF paragraph 040101 Hypnotics and individual patient ages for those items for the calendar year of 2021. (Ages 0 -25 only).


Data is for items prescribed in England regardless of where it was dispensed.


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

Patient Age

Where patient ages 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. Patient ages are based on the age as captured from the prescription image and relate to the patient's age at the time of prescribing/dispensing. Patient Age of ‘0’ represents patients aged under 1 year. Please note it is possible that a single patient may be included in the results for more than one age where a patient has received prescribing at different ages during a calendar year.

Please note there was no data for patients aged 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10 and 11 for the selected time period.

Data Quality

NHS Prescription Services have a variety of validation streams throughout prescription processing to support accurate capture of the data. In addition, a retrospective sample is completed in the month following reimbursement to identify the accuracy of prescription processing information. The check includes the accuracy of prescriber, practice and drug information, but does not include the personal details of the patient. The information is used to populate a number of Key Performance Indicators, the results of which are published on a monthly basis on the NHSBSA website at:

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 messages 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 data for patient’s age. The NHSBSA holds prescription images for 18 months. A few of the prescriptions forms in this 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 therefore 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.

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

Field Value
Contact Information Governance
Version 1.0
State active
Last Updated December 14, 2022, 13:51 (UTC)
Created December 14, 2022, 13:40 (UTC)