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Government scheme to cut scripts in older people hailed as success

A pacesetting Government scheme to cut the number of drugs prescribed to the elderly has been hailed a success.

A report by the National Prescribing Centre, in charge of developing the medicines management scheme, showed GPs who signed up could increase patient satisfaction.

The NHS Plan states every PCT in the country must

'develop and deliver' medicines management services by 2004.

But the GPC said there were no resources or money available to replicate the findings in every practice.

More than 130 practices in the first wave were told to reduce the number of drugs they gave older people, synchronise repeat prescriptions for each patient, increase dosage advice and raise patient satisfaction.

Between October 2001 and September 2002 the report showed practices reduced the average number of items given to patients aged 65 or over from 7.1 to 6.5.

The proportion of items dispensed without dosage instructions fell threefold from 23 per cent to 7.5 per cent and repeat prescription requests, which failed to include all of a patient's regular repeat items, fell from 55 per cent to 37 per cent over the same period.

Patient satisfaction also improved, with the percentage of patients experiencing problems ordering or receiving their most recent supply of medicines cut from 4.4 to 1.3.

Richard Seal, project team leader for the national collaborative medicines management service at the National Prescribing Centre, said the results showed better medicines management could be achieved and would help GPs.

'This is something you can do that's got real benefits, not only for patients but also for yourself,' he added.

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing sub-

committee, said the results were encouraging but voiced concerns over resources.

'With the demands on preventive medicine we are prescribing many more drugs. We need to be pulled up so that our repeat prescribing systems are improved,' he added.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a member of the sub-committee, warned: 'The experience for most of us in primary care is that we need to put in resources for this. It's a pity for most PCTs the only way they have been able to fund these improvements is by top-slicing their drugs budget.'

How GPs fared in medicines management

Backed by £30 million from the Department of Health

First wave began July 2001 at more than 130 practices in 26 trust sites

Practice aims and results Oct 01 Sep 02

Average number of items given to patients aged 65 or over 7.1 6.5

Percentage of repeat prescription requests failing to include all items 55.0 37.0

Percentage of items dispensed without dosage instructions 23.0 7.5

Percentage of patients experiencing problems with medicine supply 4.4 1.3

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