IRISH doctors have been very slow to prescribe cheap medicines and only young doctors appear to be interested in such prescriptions, which can save both patients and the State money, the conference heard in Kenmare over the weekend.
This reluctance comes at a time when more drugs than ever are being given to patients and "prescription rates have gone off the Richter scale", the Economic and Social Research Institute's Frances Ruane said.
The Department of Health should consider a system of rewards that would favour doctors who save money, she added.
Prof Ruane also said that the Health Service Executive must make more efforts to ensure that money follows patients' needs rather than the needs that had once existed.
Another talk on trying to ensure that public services give value for money, by Department of Education official Tom Healy, emphasised that education had the most impact in the first school years and noted that research showed that small classes were good for school children under the age of seven.