Health Secretary orders review into over-prescribing in the NHS

The review comes amid concerns a ‘no-deal Brexit’ could leave the NHS short of critical medications. 

Matt Bodell
8 December 2018

A formal review of over-prescribing in the NHS will help GPs to move towards alternatives such as social prescribing.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has ordered a formal review into doctors and pharmacists over-prescribing in the NHS.


The Department for Health and Social Care says the review will focus on patients who take multiple medicines, to ensure patients are receiving the most appropriate treatment for their condition.

Estimated total NHS spending on medicines in England has grown from £13 billion in 2010 to 2011 to £18.2 billion in 2017 to 2018.

The review will be led by Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Dr. Keith Ridge and will look at: patients taking medications unnecessarily, empowering GPs to challenge and change medications prescribed in hospital, reducing the amount of repeat prescriptions and encouraging the use of social prescribing.

The review comes amid concerns a ‘no-deal Brexit’ could leave the NHS short of critical medications.


‘GPs should move towards alternatives’.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.

“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.”

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.”


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