As the lead author of two of the most important studies in GP prescribing in recent years, Professor Tony Avery’s profile has soared in a year in which he was marked as ‘becoming more influential’ by our panel.
His GMC-funded paper looking into prescribing errors in general practice found one in 10 scripts had errors, resulting in some predictably reactionary headlines in the national press. But Professor Avery is more interested in how to take those results forward and have a long-term impact on GP prescribing.
‘What I enjoy most about the academic side of my job is being able to do research that makes a difference, particularly in terms of improving the safety of prescribing,’ the Nottingham GP explains.
Professor Avery’s research is already leading to changes in the clinical decision support tools offered by GP systems providers, and he is liaising with the RCGP to improve GP training on prescribing.
He is also hoping that the pharmacist intervention in the PINCER trial – which found a reduction in prescribing errors when pharmacists were brought into practices to assess GP prescribing – will be rolled out nationally.
Future work includes developing a patient safety toolkit for use in GP practices and, along with the University of Manchester, he will be setting up a patient safety translational research centre that will evaluate safety systems in general practices and the use of computerised clinical decision support to minimise prescribing errors.
‘I gain most satisfaction from dealing with the challenges of helping patients with complex, serious health problems,’ he says. ‘But it is incredibly hard work!’