RCGP Chair Dr Maureen Baker said: “Prescribing is a core skill for GPs and patients can be assured that their family doctor will prescribe medication only when necessary and where other alternatives have been explored. GPs also have to adhere to strict and robust monitoring systems.
“We have an ageing population and more patients are presenting with complex and multiple conditions including mental health issues and this is reflected in today’s figures.
“Compared to 2004 we have better survival for conditions such as cancer and heart disease, so many more people are taking multiple medications. We are also more systematic in identifying and treating problems such as hypertension and diabetes.
“Increasingly, we need more effective ways of looking after people with multiple conditions so that we achieve the right balance between making sure patients have the medications needed for the best possible quality of life, without running into problems from side-effects and interactions from multiple medications.
“In the GP training curriculum that all trainee GPs must follow, patient safety is the main objective of prescribing and doctors are required to demonstrate their competence in both prescribing and medicines management.
“The RCGP also places great emphasis on effective prescribing in its Continuing Professional Development support for GPs. We run e-learning courses on prescribing and the take-up is very high. The College will continue to work in this area so that GPs can deliver safe care to their patients.”
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Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.