A new study reveals that the North East and North Cumbria integrated care board is the painkiller capital of England.
The study conducted by private healthcare experts MyTribeInsurance analysed Open Prescribing data on the number of times analgesics, also known as painkillers, have been prescribed per month within each NHS integrated care board (ICB) across England per one thousand patients.
The NHS North East and North Cumbria integrated care board ranks first, prescribing painkillers 142.69 times per one thousand patients monthly. The board prescribed painkillers over 26.7 million times to its patients between April 2018 and March 2023, which cost the board over £136.9 million. The total number of patients in the North East and North Cumbria ICB is just over 3.1 million.
Second on the list is NHS Lincolnshire integrated care board prescribing painkillers 123.61 times per month per one thousand patients. This care board has just over 5.9 million patients, and the board prescribed painkillers over 5.9 million times, costing over £41.2 million between April 2018 and March 2023.
NHS South Yorkshire integrated care board ranks third, prescribing painkillers 120.28 times per month for every one thousand patients. The care board has over 1.4 million patients in its care, and this amount of prescribed painkillers cost over £68.9 million between April 2018 and March 2023, totalling just over 10.6 million times in that timeframe.
The fourth painkiller capital in the UK is Cheshire and Merseyside. The NHS Cheshire and Merseyside integrated care board prescribes analgesics on average 112.46 times per one thousand patients each month. Between April 2018 and March 2023, the care board prescribed painkillers 18 million times, costing over £114 million. The care board has just over 2.7 million patients.
The NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria integrated care board ranks fifth, spending over £76.7 million between April 2018 and March 2023 on painkillers being prescribed 11.8 million times. The care board has prescribed painkillers 110.49 times per month per one thousand patients, and there are 1.8 million patients in this ICB.
In sixth place is NHS Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly integrated care board, prescribing painkillers at a rate of 109.87 times per month per one thousand patients. In total painkillers were prescribed more than 3.8 million times between April 2018 and March 2023, costing over £24.5 million. There are just over 600 thousand patients within this board’s care.
Ranking in seventh place is NHS Humber and North Yorkshire integrated care board which has over 1.7 million patients. The total amount spent on the 11.3 million times painkillers were prescribed between April 2018 and March 2023 by the board was just over £78.1 million, and equates to 107.91 times per month per one thousand patients.
NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent integrated care board ranks eighth, prescribing painkillers 107.8 times per month per one thousand patients. Over £55.9 million was spent on the 7.4 million times painkillers were prescribed between April 2018 and March 2023. There are over 1.1 million patients within this care board.
Ranking in ninth place is NHS Norfolk and Waveney integrated care board which has just over one million patients. The board prescribed painkillers 105.73 times per month per one thousand patients, which amounts to them prescribing painkillers 6.7 million times, totalling over £46.2 million between April 2018 and March 2023.
In tenth place is NHS Devon integrated care board which has over 1.2 million patients on the board. Painkillers are prescribed 105.63 times per one thousand patients per month; with the total cost between April 2018 and March 2023 coming to more than £51.8 million.
NHS North East and North Cumbria integrated care board prescribed the most painkillers in the UK between April 2018 and March 2023, totalling just over 26.7 million. It also has the second-highest number of patients in its care, with over 3.1 million. The NHS Greater Manchester integrated care board has the highest number of patients at around 3.2 million.
NHS Greater Manchester integrated care board spent the second-highest amount on painkillers between April 2018 and March 2023 in the UK, totalling over £121.6 million.
The UK area prescribing painkillers the fewest times per month per one thousand patients is the NHS North West London integrated care board, at a rate of 37.66.
London NHS integrated care boards, including North East, South East, North Central, South West and North West London, are prescribing painkillers the lowest rate, all at less than 50 times per month per one thousand patients.
A spokesperson for MyTribeInsurance commented on the findings:
“This data offers a fascinating insight into the varying levels of painkiller prescriptions across England. There are various factors that might impact how many times analgesics might be prescribed in one area, such as the age of the population. Across the 42 integrated care boards that were included in the study, painkillers have been prescribed more than 300 million times in the past five years.”
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