GPs and other prescribers were prompted more than 5 million times over a year to encourage patients to take action to look after themselves rather than relying on medication from their doctor, thus saving the NHS millions of pounds, according to a new analysis.

The research, which looked at how practices in two thirds of England’s CCGs use prescribing support technology to help GPs make decisions that comply with local and national prescribing priorities, found that thousands of professionals acted on these alerts to encourage patients to self care, as per guidelines from NHS England published last year.

According to the new analysis – which looked at data from April 2018 to the end of March 2019 - 5 million such alerts were sent to prescribers, resulting in avoided costs to the NHS of over £10 million and helping to achieve NHS Long Term Plan ambitions of reducing prescribing costs by more than £200 million a year.

“Using technology to remind GPs of ever evolving prescribing policy, including that around self-care and appropriate medication decisions, and ensuring that this is patient-specific, means that practice prescribers can rapidly access information that is appropriate for their patients. They can then make informed prescribing decisions that benefit the patient and the practice,” said Darren Nichols, managing director of FDB (First Databank).

"From just one year’s worth of data, we can see the tremendous impact that such information can have.”

Last year GPs across the country saved the NHS at least £100 million by responding to alerts to prescribe alternative and lower cost medicines for patients.