FOI 32015



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FOI 32015

Thank you for your request for information about the following:

‘Question 1. Can you please provide me information regarding the following in a excel/csv format:

The number of prescription items issued by NHS England between January 2010 and December 2022, broken down by the following :

Columns for each calendar month (i.e. January 2010, February 2010, etc. )

Rows for prescription cost (i.e. charge exempt, charge paid, prepayment certificate):

Question 2. Can you also produce another table with columns for each month and rows for the age of the prescription recipient in year (from age 18 - 100+). This column should also contain the number of prescription items issued by NHS England in these age/month categories.

And if possible can you produce 2 more tables, with one containing the data of NHS prescriptions by age for prescription charge exempt recipients and one containing the data of NHS prescriptions by age for prescription charge paying recipients, per month.

On 13 February 2023 you clarified your request as follows

Data from between 2016 and 2022 is fine.

Regarding the first question, despite the data being incomplete can you sort the data by pay per item and exempt (both ppc and charge exempt).

Regarding the age. You can group all 100+ together and use the age in the system when the prescription was processed.’

Your request was received on 25 January 2023 and has been dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.


2010 to 2013

I am writing to advise you that following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is not held by the NHS Business Services Authority. Prescription payment data is held as far back as January 2014.

2014 Onwards

Please see the below responses to each question, for data which we hold for 2014 onwards.

Question 1

Under Section 21 of the Act, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The information you requested is available from web link:

Question 2

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

April 2014 to December 2022 inclusive

Organisation Data

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

Year Month

The year and month for which the claim for dispensed items has been submitted to NHSBSA.


The number of times a product appears on a prescription form.

Charge Status

The overall high level exemption rate (chargeable or exempt) is as robust as it can be in terms of the data we hold.

However the data in relation to the standalone figure for Pre-Payment Certificate does have significant limitations in terms of its quality.

This is due to how information has been captured during our scanning process and even for prescriptions received via the Electronic Prescribing System, normally higher quality data, there is considerable uncertainty due to the increasing use of the Real Time Exemption Checking service (RTEC). Exemptions determined using RTEC are classified as “No Declaration/Declaration Not Specific” and this is likely to include a large but unknown number of prescriptions for different exemption categories.

In the dataset the percentage of exempt from charge items that had the classification of “No Declaration/Declaration Not Specific” was as follows, by calendar year;

2015 5.50%

2016 4.67%

2017 4.22%

2018 3.73%

2019 3.47%

2020 3.67%

2021 8.04%

2022 14.38%

Within this dataset items with an exemption category of “No Declaration/Declaration Not Specific” have been given the classification of No Charge which in some cases will have been exempt due to a Pre-Payment Certificate.


Patient age is as captured on prescriptions during processing.

Where an age has not been captured -1 is given

Patients aged 60 and over

The provided data may imply that patients aged 60 and over have fallen into the ‘chargeable’ category rather than the ‘exempt’ category. This is more apparent on paper prescriptions where the age or date of birth written on the prescription form has not been clearly written or markings on the prescription form, both could prevent the NHSBSA scanners from capturing the information accurately during processing of these scripts.

Electronic messages received by the NHSBSA have a higher accuracy rate when capturing age and date of birth.

Here is further guidance on how the NHSBSA calculates age;

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

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Contact Information Governance
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Last Updated March 13, 2023, 12:11 (UTC)
Created March 13, 2023, 12:07 (UTC)