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GPs now wary with opiates

A post-Shipman climate of suspicion is leading many GPs to stop administering opiates, research by the Small Practices Association reveals.

A survey of 238 small practices found only 36 per cent of GPs stocked opiates in their surgery and 38 per cent carried them in their medical bag.

The figures were 61 per cent and 68 per cent respectively

before the Shipman Inquiry.

The fall can partially be explained by GPs giving up out of hours work. However, 26 per cent of GPs said they felt more anxious prescribing opiates for pain relief in case of accidental overdoses. Some 35 per cent of GPs said they now referred more cases to hospices, hospitals and specialist teams.

Dr Michael Taylor, chairman of the Small Practices Association, said it was 'disconcerting' that many GPs felt they now had to refer cases on.

But he added that prescribing opiates had stayed the same and terminally ill patients were not denied suitable pain relief.

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