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GP Prescribing Data

GP Prescribing Data


The Business Services Organisation (BSO) is the provider of the data. GP practice level prescribing data is obtained from the BSO’s prescribing and dispensing information systems. The data covers prescriptions that are prescribed by a GP or Nurse (within a main GP Practice), subsequently dispensed (by a Community Pharmacist, Appliance Supplier or Dispensing Doctor) and submitted to BSO for payment.

The data includes all prescribed medicines, dressings and appliances that are dispensed each month. If a patient does not take a prescription to a dispenser and get it provided to them, then the information will not be included in the dataset. Private prescriptions are not included in the data. Hospice items are excluded. Post-payment adjustments are excluded.

For each GP practice in Northern Ireland, and for each medicine (by presentation), dressing and appliance, the following information is provided:  The number of prescribed items that are dispensed, the quantity of tablets, capsules, liquid etcetera dispensed, the gross cost and the actual cost.

Monthly Datasets

The release of the GP Prescribing data is dependent on the completion of pharmacy payment processes but will be published here on or before the 10th of each month.  CSV version of the files can be found on the Open Data NI website.

Anonymised Contractor Dispensing Data

Datasets with dispensing information, anonymised by contractor, are also available from April 2019 on the same page as the monthly GP Prescribing datasets.


Improvements have been made to BNF chapter classifications to ensure consistency between Northern Ireland and England. Previously over 99.5% of items prescribed and dispensed in Northern Ireland had the same BNF chapter classification as England. Of the 0.5% of items that originally differed in classification, around 99.6% referred to items previously counted as Appliances (Chapter 21) being reclassified into the Eye (Chapter 11), Ear, Nose and Oropharynx (Chapter 12) and Skin (Chapter 13) chapters. Caution should therefore be exercised when comparing figures prior to October 2021 for chapters 11, 12, 13 and 21.

Following the development of a new database, data for August 2021 onwards may show a change in quantity for some inhalers, sprays and solutions. Where quantities were previously listed as a device, this may now show the amount of doses dispensed.

Further information and advice on using the data can be found here.

Quarterly GP Practice Reference Files

GP Practice lists are required by users of the GP Prescribing data so that the prescribing data can be standardised based on the size of the GP Practice. They were previously published following the release of the GMS official statistics.

This information is now contained within the Family Practitioner Service GMS Statistics spreadsheet under the Quarterly General Medical Services Statistics section here. Please navigate to Table 1.7 to obtain the numbers of patients registered with each practice on a quarterly basis.