Prescription rises inevitable as patients live longer, says College

Publication date: 15 March 2018

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to NHS Digital figures published today on prescription numbers.

She said: "GPs are highly-trained to prescribe, and will only do so when they feel it is appropriate for the patient sitting in front of them, based on the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on their health.

"It is testament to advances in medical research, public health and the tireless work of our NHS that people are now living longer, however, this also means that people are living long enough to develop conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As these conditions are identified more frequently, we have a responsibility to offer patients the right medication to manage them and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke in the future.

"For those living with multiple, complex conditions, this can sometimes mean being prescribed a variety of drugs to help them manage their health and reduce the risk of complications.

"Patients should be reassured that while medication can be of great benefit, GPs will always try to explore alternatives to pharmacological treatments, and recommend lifestyle changes for patients, that may also have a positive impact on their long-term health and wellbeing.

"Where medication is appropriate, GPs use evidence-based prescribing guidelines to help them select the right drug and will carefully consider whether those drugs work safely in combination with other medications that a person may be taking - and also undertake regular reviews, in consultation with their patients."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 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.

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