I had a call from someone who was in the same support group as me twenty years ago. He is coming up to 50 years on insulin. You may recall that I have had some fun and games with repeats and now have to do smaller requests (approx. 4 weekly) as I get 56 days of one drug, 84 of another, etc. The new administration team leader doesn't seem to like you getting a prescription every 56 days and the 84 day one two times out of three. Add the anti-anginal every 28 days and I think they are more confused than I am. Anyway my friend has had a similar bit of messing about which seems linked to micro-management of spending.
I can only tell you what my opinion is based on at least some inside knowledge gained as a member of the Patients Panel Group of how surgeries work regarding drug prescriptions.
All surgeries are bound to stick to their budgets for prescribing. Good surgeries will do their best to minimise their spend if possible by several means e.g. finding the same drug cheaper from a different supplier/drug company and specifying that make on the script (hence you may see your out of patent drugs such as Levothyroxine, from a different supplier from time to time).
The wastage on prescription drugs is horrendous and costs the NHS many millions of pounds. Mostly this occurs because either the patient puts the repeat prescription management in the hands of their pharmacy, who then continue to request the drugs whether they are needed or not. For example, for a very short time I let the pharmacy manage my repeats. Like yourself I get drugs prescribed in different amounts e.g. I get 55 Liothyronine tablets at a time and I only take a half tablet daily. Others come in 28 day repeats. The pharmacy were ordering ALL my drugs every 28 days, so after 2 months I had 220 days worth of Liothyronine. Meantime, if for whatever reason (unlikely but not impossible) I may be taken off that drug, it could leave me with a huge supply of a very expensive drug that would be completely wasted. The other problem is patients themselves just asking for repeats of drugs they have ceased to take. It's something that was on discussion at our last meeting last week. The Patient panel are now producing leaflets and posters to put up in the surgery asking people to think before requesting drugs.
However, last Friday he received a letter saying the practice was reviewing all patients that get repeats of blood glucose strips. The review is being done by an outsider (!) when I would have thought is should be one's GP, consultant or DSN. Each patient has to attend and will be reviewed prior to getting an upgrade to this company’s preferred product. My friend has delved in LinkedIn and found they are a pharmacist turned sales executive. To me it smells – what do you think?
Test strips are a large expense and indeed some people will be getting them prescribed who either don't use them, or do not use them appropriately. I think it highly unlikely that they are looking at restricting access to test strips for T1 diabetics. However, there will be a economy of scale if your particular surgery (or in fact the CCG that your surgery is under) has negotiated a deal with one supplier of strips and it sounds very much likely that this is what is happening at your surgery... or it might just be that the review is being done by a rep in order to ascertain how much of a discount based on usage he/his company can offer. Or, it could be that a hardworking and hard pushed surgery doesn't have time to physically administer the exercise. So I don't think it is necessarily a shady deal. However, I know it has happened at other surgeries and that some of the meters/strips on offer have been disappointing or unreliable compared to those supplied by the more mainstream manufacturers. My surgery did a deal some years ago for the Wavesense Jazz. AFAIK it's a decent meter, but it's not for me because my meter is the handset of my pump and so I need Accu-Chek strips. I have had no problems continuing to get the AccuChek strips prescribed.