Prescribed and Dispensed

This dataset contains details of items prescribed and subsequently dispensed in the community at prescribing location (GP Practices, Dentists and Hospitals) and dispensing locations (Community Pharmacies) within Scotland.

The date of the next release can be found on our list of forthcoming publications.

NHS Scotland has introduced a new dispensing contractor payment process and system. Due to this new system, data from May 2023 onwards should be treated as provisional. Data from May 2023 onwards may not be directly comparable to data published previously and should be interpreted with caution.

Data and Resources

Additional Info

Field Value
Source The data is extracted from the Prescribing Information System (PIS) database, jointly maintained by PHS and NSS. The data is gathered by Practitioner Services Division (PSD) who are responsible for the processing of payments to Scottish dispensing contractors on behalf of NHS Boards. Data Capture Validation and Pricing (DCVP) is the system used by PSD for this purpose, and a monthly feed takes place between DCVP and PIS. In May 2023 the contractor payment system used by NHS Scotland for producing payment schedules for pharmacies, dispensing doctors, and appliance suppliers on behalf of NHS Boards was updated.
Author Prescribing Team, Public Health Scotland
Last Updated April 10, 2024, 09:17 (BST)
Created May 4, 2018, 07:50 (BST)
Contact Address Prescribing Team, Public Health Scotland, Gyle Square, 1 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 9EB
Subject NHS Prescriptions
Frequency Quarterly
Time frame of data and timeliness 2-3 months in arrears for new data releases
Coverage All prescribers and dispensers within Scotland
Completeness Information on 100% of NHS Scotland prescriptions dispensed within the community and claimed for payment by a pharmacy contractor (i.e. pharmacy, dispensing doctor or appliance supplier) is held on the Prescribing Information System. It does not include data on prescriptions dispensed but not claimed (likely to be very small) or prescriptions prescribed but not submitted for dispensing by a patient. Some research estimated these latter prescriptions to account for around 6% of all prescriptions issued to patients. It is not possible to determine from payment data how much of the medicine dispensed to patients is taken in accordance with dosage instructions. The data does not cover private prescriptions. All practices in Scotland are included in this data where (in the relevant month) a prescription has been dispensed and claimed for payment by a dispensing contractor. Where the prescriber location code is unknown, prescriber data are aggregated by NHS health board as follows: GP Unknown: “GP” followed by their health board number. These numbers are determined by the alphabetical order of boards. For example, a dummy GP practice in Ayrshire and Arran is recoded as GP001. Dental Practice Unknown: “DP” followed by their health board number. For example, a dummy DP practice in Borders is recorded as DP002. Community Pharmacy Unknown: “CP” followed by their health board number. Hospital Ward Unknown: “HW” followed by their health board number.
Accuracy The data are sourced from a payment system and routine monthly checks are carried out by Practitioner Services on a random sample of approximately 5% of prescription payments. These check all data captured for payment and the accuracy of the payment calculation and have a target accuracy of 98% which is routinely met. Data that is captured but is not mandatory for payment purposes can be of lower quality; this includes the prescriber code linking a prescription back to the individual prescriber (e.g. GP) and their organisation (e.g. practice or NHS Board). Routine monitoring of unallocated prescriptions is carried out and correct codes are applied. This ensures that unallocated prescriptions account for fewer than 2% of all prescriptions. For remaining unallocated prescriptions, the prescribing NHS Board is assumed to be the same as the dispensing NHS Board.
Continuity of data The definition of the main measures such as number of items are unchanged over the period data has been available within PIS. Drug products are first licensed as proprietary medicines but generic versions often appear once the original patent expires. This can affect the price and uptake of these drugs. The Scottish Government sets the reimbursement price of generic drug products via the Scottish Drug Tariff which is updated and issued quarterly.
Concepts and definitions Refer to the data dictionary, glossary of terms and prescribing data summary report.
Disclosure No disclosure controls are applied.
Revision statement There is no routine requirement to revise historical data.
Official statistics designation Experimental
Relevance and key uses of the statistics
Format CSV
Language English

UK Government Open Data site,

England HSCIC Publications,

Welsh Publications,

Northern Irish Health Publications,

PHS Scotland Prescribing and Medicines Publications

NHS Scotland Prescribing Open Data

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