Staggering 10 percent of GP prescriptions are unnecessary, say doctors

Davina McCall celebrates HRT prescription changes

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According to Professor Powis, 10 percent of all GP prescriptions are unnecessary.

This works out at as 114 million drugs wasted every single year.

All of this comes at a cost of £1billion to an NHS desperately in need of more funding and better management.

It isn’t just wasted drugs Professor Powis is concerned about, it’s patient welfare too.

Professor Powis is worried patients are being needlessly put onto drugs they subsequently develop an addiction to.

He added the problem had existed before 2020 and worsened during the pandemic as there were fewer medication reviews.

Speaking at the NHS Confederation Expo Professor Powis said: “The approach of a pill for every ill should never been a starting point for treating patients.

“With figures suggesting around 10 percent of prescriptions are not needed…reducing unnecessary prescriptions which can increase the risk of harm and cause unwanted side effects is more important than ever.”

Commonly over-prescribed medicines known to cause side effects include statins and drugs used to lower blood pressure.

While these are effective in their roles, lifestyle changes have been shown to work as well, if not better, than those medications.

Furthermore, while sleeping tablets can help with insomnia, so too can cognitive behavioural therapy.

Data suggested the elderly were the age group most likely to be affected by the over-prescription of drugs; hospital data found around one in five hospitalisations of over-65s was caused by side effects of their medication.

In response to the pill-popping problem, medical bodies and pharmacists have come together to launch a campaign known as Beyond Pills.

Their goal is to limit the “overprescribing epidemic” and promote alternatives to medicines.

For example, gardening and art classes are being promoted as ways to treat depression.

Despite this, in some cases medicines are the best way forward for a select group of patients when lifestyle changes are ineffective.

Statins, for example, are used to help patients lower their cholesterol.

They work by reducing production of cholesterol in the liver.

Like other medicines, they can cause some side effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, tiredness, and sleep issues.

However, should problems arise, there are ways for the patient to report issues via the Government’s online Yellow Card Scheme.

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