The new Health Secretary, Matt Hancock has recognised that over prescribing medicines not only means money is spent unnecessarily but for the patient it can lead to unwanted side-effects, awkward conversations between patient and GP and in some cases dependency on medicines which is not needed.
The review which will be lead by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr Keith Ridge will cover all aspects of prescriptions including:
- Management of non-reviewed repeat prescriptions
- The process when patients ask questions about their treatment
- The role of digital technologies in reducing oversubscribing
- Creating better handovers between primary and secondary care so that GPs have the data and can challenge if necessary, prescriptions which were initially made during a hospital stay.
- Addressing cases where patients are taking multiple medicines unnecessarily
- Looking at the role of other forms of care, including social prescribing.
Spending on prescription medicines in England continues to rise, in 2010 spending was at £13 billon, now it's over £18 billion. Whilst some of this is due to improved diagnosis, people living longer and patients feeling better able to discuss health concerns with their GP at present nearly half of patients over 75 years old are taking five or more medicines, this may not all be necessary.
The Government is investing an extra £20.5 billion a year into our NHS and we want to empower doctors and pharmacists to use the data available to ensure their patients receive the medicines they need an stop taking medicines which no longer benefit them.
Success has already been made in reducing unnecessary antibiotics helping improve resistance when this medicine is used to fight superbugs and other bacteria. This nationwide review will help ensure patients receive the medicines best suited to their current health needs whilst helping the NHS cut back on waste.