12 March 2018

GPs Will Not Prescribe Opioids as a 'Quick Fix' Solution, Says RCGP

Responding to a BBC investigation into opioid prescribing in the NHS, Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

“GPs take prescribing any medication incredibly seriously and will do so based on the physical, psychological and social factors potentially impacting on the health of the patient in front of them, and in line with current clinical guidelines – they will never prescribe simply as a ‘quick fix’ solution. 

“Opioids can be very effective painkillers for new onset or longer term conditions. However, for patients living with chronic pain they do have associated risks – including addiction - and GPs will discuss these with patients before jointly making the decision to prescribe them. GPs will also monitor patients to ensure that the treatment is proving beneficial.

“In most cases patients do not want to take medication long-term, and GPs will always try to explore alternatives, such as psychological therapies - but these can be hard to come by at community level, leaving them with few alternatives which are still considered of equal benefit to the patient. GPs and our teams will also advocate modest levels of exercise to patients in pain, but for some patients this simply isn’t an option.

“GPs and our teams will continue to work closely with patients in chronic pain by inviting them for regular medication reviews, and prescribing opioids, when deemed the best treatment option, at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.”

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.