10 May 2018

College Welcomes 'Sophisticated' Safety Measures to Help Reduce Medication Errors

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to the introduction of a new safety system to help the NHS monitor and prevent medication errors.

She said: "The data published today should reassure patients that in the vast majority of cases, prescriptions issued from their GP surgery are made appropriately and accurately.

"Prescribing the right medication at the right time is a core part of GP training and daily practice, and one we all take very seriously. But healthcare professionals are only human, and particularly in our stretched NHS, mistakes can happen – the key thing is not to admonish people for mistakes, but to have the best possible systems in place to minimise the risk of errors happening, and to highlight and then rectify them swiftly if they do occur.

"We hope that the new measures announced by the Department of Health and Social Care will be useful for healthcare professionals throughout the NHS. it will now be important to constantly and rigorously evaluate these, to ensure they are being used and implemented in the best interests of patient care and safety.

"GPs already use a number of embedded IT systems to help them issue the most appropriate medication for patients, such as warning indicators if a drug a person is taking might interfere with a new prescription as well as alerts about drugs that have previously caused an allergic reaction, but ultimately the more sophisticated but streamlined safety measures we have in place to minimise human error, the better.

"Additionally, while we recognise the role of new safety guidelines in helping prescribers to avoid medication errors, it's important to keep sight of a truly long-lasting solution to delivering safe patient care, starting with adequate funding and ensuring we have enough GPs and other healthcare professionals, working at safe levels, in the system.

"We urgently need to see the pledges in NHS England's GP Forward View, including an extra £2.4bn a year for general practice, 5,000 more GPs and 5,000 more members of the wider practice team, delivered, in full.. We also need similar promises made and delivered in Scotland, Wales and NI, so that our patients have robust, safe GP care wherever they live in the UK."

Further Information
RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633/7410
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

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.