DoH could hand pharmacists power to alter GP scrips unilaterally

Plans to allow pharmacists to change prescriptions without consulting prescribers could blur clinical responsibility and undermine patient care, GPs have warned.

Under DoH proposals, pharmacists would be able to change how medicines are named on the prescription and directions for their use without contacting the prescriber.

Wessex LMCs chief executive Dr Nigel Watson said the move could cause problems for patients and affect legal clinical responsibility for prescribing.

'I can see why they’d want to do it, and it might work well in some situations, but there would be issues,’ he said.

'If you’re the one that prescribes you hold legal responsibility,’ he said. ‘If I’ve done something wrong, I would much sooner know about it.

'Sometimes a patient ends up with a quirky dose for good clinical reasons.'

Dr Watson added that queries about prescriptions helped develop relationships between GPs and pharmacists.

He said that, despite the huge number of prescriptions processed by his practice, there were few problems.

Dr Bill Beeby, chairman of the GPC prescribing subcommittee, said the subcommittee had yet to discuss the plans.

'Personally, I think it might have value in some situations,’ he said. ‘But I have some concerns about it.'

Dr Beeby said changes such as allowing pharmacists to supply twice as many 250mg tablets in place of 500mg ones could be helpful. But changes to duration of treatment could cause problems, he warned.

Details of the proposals are included in a consultation from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is open for comments until 17 January 2012.

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