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Government choose England top pharmacist to address overprescribing and polypharmacy

Published on 13/12/18 at 10:14am

England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge has been chosen to look into ‘problematic’ overprescribing in the NHS.

The move comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the Government would be looking into overprescribing and ‘problematic polypharmacy’ – the problem of patients taking multiple medicines unnecessarily.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock commented: “Recent advances in medicine have led to fantastic developments in managing and treating certain conditions, but poorly managed prescribing can lead to serious issues for patients such as increased admissions to hospital or antibiotic resistance.

“As we invest an extra £20.5 billion a year into our NHS we want to empower doctors and pharmacists to use the data available to ensure patients get the medicines they need and stop taking those that no longer benefit them.

“We also need to back our GPs to move towards alternatives such as social prescribing, so we can offer more tailored healthcare that focuses on prevention to stop people from becoming ill in the first place – improving care and reducing the burden on the NHS.”

Dr Ridge’s review will look at improving the role of digital technologies in reducing overprescribing, the role of other forms of care and 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”.

NHS spending on medicines in England has grown from £13 billion in 2010 to 2011 to £18.2 billion in 2017 to 2018, growing at an average rate of 5% each year.

The Health Survey England 2016 found that nearly half of all people older than 75 who were surveyed were taking five or more medicines.

Keith Ridge, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer at NHS England, said: “Doctors, pharmacists and patients need to work together to ensure people are on the right medicines, for the right amount of time.”

“NHS England’s recent successes in reducing unnecessary antibiotics and medicines with care homes and GP practices, on polypharmacy, and on beginning to end overmedication for people with learning disabilities, all show what can be – and indeed now is being – done on this important topic.”

Louis Goss

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