Supporting evidence-based, cost-effective utilisation of medicines

The provision of high-quality, timely information and expert advice remains essential to the commissioning and delivery of safe, clinically excellent and cost-effective healthcare.

Medicines are the most common intervention in healthcare. Over 1.1 billion prescription items were dispensed in the community in England in 2021, at a cost of £9.0 billion. This will account for around 11% of spending by clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in 2021-22.

Whilst optimising the medicines budget is a high priority for all NHS organisations, integrated care systems will focus on improving the health of their population and the Regional Drug and Therapeutics Centre (RDTC) are supporting this, as demonstrated in our “Prescribing for Population Health” series.

How can we help?

We have a unique blend of skills and a broad range of experience in our multidisciplinary team, which comprises pharmacists, information scientists, data analysts and a statistician. The proactive support of our professional networks enables the sharing of knowledge across stakeholders and sectors, reducing duplication of effort and facilitating best and equitable use of limited resources.

The RDTC has over 30 years’ of experience in providing high quality information and support to NHS healthcare organisations. We are NICE accredited and our team are embedded in regional and local decision-making groups. This means we are ideally placed to support integrated care systems (ICSs) with complex analysis of medicines use and outcomes.

A unique resource for NHS information provision, the centre strives to offer a cost- and clinically-effective service and to support our stakeholder organisations to the very best of our ability.

The centre has expertise in:

  • Prescribing for Population Health reports to support ICSs in integrating medicines interventions into the wider system
  • Horizon scanning for new drugs and national developments, conducted monthly and annually
  • Professional secretariat services to committees at national, regional, and local level
  • Development of an ICS-wide formulary and the ongoing management of medicines into a health economy
  • Review, audit and creation of local decision-making processes, ethical frameworks, and terms of reference
  • Specialist medicines information enquiry answering
  • Information evaluation and synthesis; we are NICE accredited for our New Drug Evaluation series
  • Specialist pharmacy knowledge and skills
  • Specialist data analysis and interrogation skills
  • Provision of training on critical appraisal, data analysis, medicines information enquiry answering, and evidence-based medicine.

Our track record

The RDTC has developed a reputation as an authoritative, independent source of high-quality information and advice, and is trusted by medicines and pharmacy teams, and healthcare professionals across the North of England.

The RDTC was initially established in 1991 as a collaboration between Newcastle University and the former Northern Regional Health Authority. Over the course of more than thirty years, services provided by the centre have developed and increased in volume as the team has won additional contracts and expanded the geographical area covered. Despite this growth, we always remain responsive to the needs of our stakeholders.

We are now hosted by the Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust but have retained our independent status to support stakeholders across the North of England. Stakeholders value the quality of information produced by the RDTC and regularly use it within area prescribing committees to support local decision-making. This is complemented by our strategic services, which are designed to provide support at an ICS level.

Value for money

We are a non-commercial, not-for-profit NHS organisation hosted by an NHS Foundation Trust. We work closely with many NHS organisations both regionally and nationally and strive to support collaborative working across systems and sectors.

Through close working with multiple Medicines Committees across the North of England, we develop resources which can be duplicated for use through and across systems, affording economies of scale to our users. Working across a broad geographical area enables the RDTC to facilitate sharing of information and best practice between stakeholder organisations, thereby preventing duplication of work.

The resources included within our standard contract enable RDTC stakeholders to have cost-effective access to the expertise provided by our in-house clinical trial evaluation experts, data analysts, statistician, and specialist pharmacists.