There is a large excess in prescribing costs by GPs in Wales compared with England. This excess amounts to about 30%, equivalent at present to over pounds 11 m a year. The pattern of drug prescribing by GPs and of patient consultation was studied in random samples of electors in Cardiff and Bristol. Overall, more subjects in Cardiff had received prescriptions, and the average number of scripts for each person was higher than in England in the same period. The pattern for consultations was similar. For both prescriptions and consultations the rates were higher in Wales and the difference from those in England seemed to be greater for women than for men. There was no consistent difference between the two cities in the proportions of those who had consulted who received a script, nor was there any evidence that subjects in Cardiff received more prescriptions without a consultation. In both cities similar proportions of subjects bought drugs from chemists without a prescription.
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