Prescribing and prescriptions management

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Part of Inquiry into the quality of general practice in England

Inappropriate and unnecessary prescribing in general practice represents a potential safety hazard for patients and wastes NHS resources. Tackling these issues in medicine management will need to address what roles should be played by the new breed of primary care prescribers, including nurses, pharmacies and independent prescribers.

Related document: Quality of GP prescribing

Online distribution of this dimension of the GP Inquiry has been generously sponsored by First DataBank Europe.

What did we explore?

To inform its work, the Inquiry panel commissioned a research project to examine what good-quality prescribing looks like in terms of patient care and cost effectiveness, and how it can best be measured. Quality of GP prescribing what is known about the current quality of prescribing in general practice, including how quality varies from practice to practice. The paper's authors are Martin Duerden, GP and Assistant Medical Director (primary care); David Millson, RCGP Clinical Champion for prescribing; Tony Avery, Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Nottingham; and Sharon Smart, Director of Clinical Knowledge, Sowerby Centre for Health Informatics at Newcastle.

What have we learnt about prescribing?

In March 2010 the Inquiry held a seminar, kindly sponsored by First DataBank Europe, on prescribing with participants including GPs, practice nurses, NHS executives, health academics and patient representatives.

Key issues raised in discussion include:

  • How can better use be made of prescribing data and IT to improve the quality and safety of prescribing?
  • What are the appropriate roles for nurse, independent and other non-GP prescribers in primary care?
  • To what extent should general practice take patient views on board and ensure that their choices have been explored at the time of prescribing?

What's your view?

During the inquiry, we asked for your opinions on this care dimension. You can read the comments submitted below.

Related content


sue knox

Medicines Management Pharmacist,
NHS Gloucestershire and other PCTs
Comment date
19 February 2011
I am developing a 'Change Agent' service for GP practices that focusses around improving prescribing processes to make cost efficiency savings to the prescribing budget and the practice staff costs. This will be imperative post April 2012 when all practices register with the CQC as they will need to prove they have processes and protocols in place that ensure patients medicines are delivered safely and appropriately. Please keep me posted on your findings as they will help inform the further development of this service

James Andrews

Practice Pharmacist,
Guildowns Group Practice
Comment date
03 August 2011
This is outstanding and timely work, thank-you. As a practice-employed pharmacist I have spent the last year or so reviewing and implementing quite a few of the recommendations you mention, but can now use your findings to further develop the good bits, and pull up harder on the less-so, with wider sharing through the CCG. However I do worry that recent DH activity may scupper the recommendations on effective IT-based cross-organisation communication.