Evaluating the effect of new hospital specialties on GP prescription costs

Steven Simoens, Colin Gordon, Anthony Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The aim of this paper is to examine whether the introduction of new hospital specialties contributed to an increase in GP prescription costs. New specialties were introduced in Dr Gray's hospital, Grampian, North-East Scotland in 1994. Data on prescription costs and volume for groups of drugs associated with the new specialties were obtained for all GP practices in Moray (study practices) and Kincardine and Deeside (control practices). Comparing the periods January-April in 1994 with 1995, and 1995 with 1996, an upward trend in GP prescription costs was detected for ulcer healing drugs and anti-depressants. The trend in Kincardine and Deeside also pointed to rising prescription costs, although to a lesser extent. The number of patients referred to the psychiatric and gynaecology specialties expanded after the introduction of these specialties at Dr Gray's. In conclusion, there is some evidence to support the proposition that the introduction of new specialties at Dr Gray's was associated with an increase in the growth of prescription costs within Moray. Further research should establish more clearly whether this is as a result of increased referrals by GPs or the prescribing of more expensive drugs by consultants. The results have implications for the setting of prescribing budgets. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-178
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • GP prescription costs
  • GP referrals
  • Hospital specialties

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