A new report indicates that patients in the North of England are being prescribed significantly more opioids for pain relief compared with patients in the South.
Researchers at the University of Nottingham and University of Manchester analysed data from Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) of 7856 GP practices across Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and London.
The findings showed substantial variation in the prescription of opioids from northern and eastern parts of the country compared with the southern parts. GP practices in the North and East regions were found to prescribe 4 times more opioid medications compared with South. NHS Blackpool CCG and NHS St Helens CCG accounted for the highest levels of opioid prescriptions. Among the top 10 highest prescribing areas were 5 areas in North East and 4 areas in the North West. The study also revealed a direct association between use of opioids and socioeconomic status; opioid prescription being higher in poorer areas, especially in areas having a higher prevalence of obesity and smoking and an ageing population.
Dr Roger Knaggs from the University of Nottingham said: "We need to understand more about why opioids are prescribed more commonly in areas of greater deprivation and to ensure there is collaboration between different parts of the healthcare system to provide appropriate services, and support are available for people who are prescribed opioids.”