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GPs to develop list of unnecessary interventions under scheme to tackle overtreatment

A group of royal colleges including the RCGP is launching a new initiative to tackle overuse of unnecessary drugs and procedures that they say are doing more harm than good.

Led by Dr Aseem Malhotra, from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the ‘Choosing Wisely’ campaign will encourage GPs to discuss potential harms of treatments with patients, as well encouraging patients to ask if tests are really needed.

By autumn, each of the colleges will submit a list of the top five tests or procedures that are of ‘questionable value’ and will advise doctors on stopping using them.

The move comes after a team of GPs, led by RCGP Council member Dr Margaret McCartney, set up a working group on over-medicalisation.

Professor Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘If there is evidence to show that a particular intervention might be of little benefit to a patient, it is good practice that alternatives are explored.’

She added that GPs were ‘under considerable pressure to prescribe, or take some form of action’ so it will be important to work together with people so they ‘realise that drug or surgical treatment isn’t always the best way forward’.

BMJ 2015; available online 12 May


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