2 May 2012

RCGP Response to GMC Report 'Investigating the Prevalence and Causes of Prescribing Errors in General Practice'

Dr Clare Gerada, RCGP Chair of Council, said:

"There are over one million patient consultations in general practice every day across the UK, and this report demonstrates that in 95% of cases GPs prescribe safely and effectively in the best interests of their patients.

"General practice is the only specialty that cares for the whole person. With an ageing population and more patients presenting with complex and multiple conditions and a wider range of treatments, prescribing can be extremely complex.

"Prescribing is a core skill for GPs and, in the main, standards are extremely high. Patients can be reassured that many processes within practices are already working extremely well and safely, while advances in technology, regular robust monitoring systems and efficient team working are making it safer and even more effective.

"GPs strive to keep their prescribing skills up to date to provide the safest possible patient care, but any error in GP prescribing is regrettable and is taken very seriously by GPs and their teams. The report helpfully identifies some areas where improvements can be made and we welcome the recommendations particularly on use of audit, the information listed on prescriptions and closer working between GPs and pharmacists, where the RCGP is already making a lot of progress.

"The report also highlights issues around GP training, the majority of which we are already working to address. Two weeks ago the RCGP successfully submitted its educational case for extended and enhanced training to the Medical Programme Board of Medical Education England (MEE), with the aim of broadening the experience of future GPs in dealing with the increasingly challenging and complex environment of general practice.

"The GP training curriculum, introduced by the RCGP in 2007, is also in the final phase of a three year revision which will shortly be submitted to the GMC. In the current version of the Curriculum, patient safety is the main objective of prescribing. In the revised version doctors will be required to demonstrate their competence in both prescribing and medicines management.

"The RCGP is also placing greater emphasis on effective prescribing in its CPD support for GPs. This has already been achieved in a number of clinical areas including respiratory health and substance misuse and the College will continue to work in this area so that GPs can deliver the best possible care to their patients".


RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7574/7575/7576 Out of hours: 0203 188 7659 Email: press@rcgp.org.uk


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 45,000 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.