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Matt Hancock orders review into over-prescribing in the NHS

The review will be led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Keith Ridge. It will look at:

  • addressing ‘problematic polypharmacy’ – where a patient is taking multiple medicines unnecessarily
  • creating a more efficient handover between primary and secondary care, for example ensuring GPs have the data they need and feel able to challenge and change prescribing made in hospitals
  • improving management of non-reviewed repeat prescriptions – including encouraging patients to ask questions about their treatment to ensure they don’t remain stuck on repeat prescriptions which are no longer needed.
  • the role of digital technologies in reducing overprescribing
  • the increased role for other forms of care, including social prescribing

Estimated total NHS spending on medicines in England has grown from £13 billion in 2010 to 2011 to £18.2 billion in 2017 to 2018. This is an average growth of around 5% a year – with 1.1 billion prescription items dispensed in primary care by GPs and pharmacists.

Health Survey England 2016 found that nearly half of over 75-year-olds surveyed were taking 5 or more medicines, with this percentage rising the older people get.
While in the majority of cases patients will be receiving multiple drugs due to specific or complex needs, the review will look at how to ensure treatment remains up to date and appropriate so patients feel as well as possible.
The review will look at how doctors and pharmacists can be supported to review prescriptions and ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate treatment for their needs. 

Source: Department of Health & Social Care 8th December 2018

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Optimisation of Electronic Prescribing in Hospitals National Summit 2019
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10 December 2018


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