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GPs' fears over shared care

Medical defence bodies are reporting growing anxiety among GPs about shared-care responsibilities.

The Medical Defence Union said it was dealing with far more inquiries from GPs concerned about prescribing unfamiliar treatments recommended by consultants.

Oral methotrexate and nicotine replacement therapy for pregnant patients were two of the most frequently reported problem areas.

Dr Matt Lee, medicolegal adviser at the MDU, said GPs should only sign a prescription if they were entirely comfortable with what they are being asked to do. If in doubt they should liaise with the originating consultant.

'There are lots of drugs consultants want to try and new uses for drugs,' he said.

'GPs need to be clear what their obligations are, and if it's a situation where they are unfamiliar with a specialist drug or it is off-licence they need to be more cautious.

'If they are uncertain they should ask the consultant for rationale; if they are uncomfortable, don't do it.'

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