Don't assume GPs can prescribe drugs initiated in hospital, warns NHS England

Hospitals cannot transfer responsibility for prescribing medication initiated in secondary care to GPs without their agreement, NHS England has warned in guidance published this week.

Pharmacy (Photo: Simon Barber)
Pharmacy (Photo: Simon Barber)

Guidance on responsibility for prescribing across the primary/secondary care interface aims to clarify the responsibilities of hospital doctors and GPs and builds on changes to the NHS standard contract designed to stop hospitals dumping work on GPs.

GP leaders have said that as many as 15m GP appointments a year are wasted by hospitals dumping work inappropriately on general practice.

The guidance reiterates requirements that GPs receive a discharge summary including details of patients' diagnosis and medication within 24 hours of them leaving hospital.

Hospitals are reminded that they should provide patients with enough medicine to last a minimum of seven days after discharge, and how to seek GPs' agreement where they believe that shared ongoing care of a patient who has been treated in hospital is appropriate.

Safe prescribing

BMA GP committee prescribing lead Dr Andrew Green said: 'We’re pleased this guidance clarifies the steps that need to be taken to ensure safe, efficient care for patients passing between different parts of the health service.

'It is vital that doctors and managers within hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups and LMCs work together to make sure local arrangements follow these principles.'

BMA consultants committee deputy chair Dr Gary Wannan said: 'Doctors are working together across hospitals and general practice every day to make sure patients receive their right medicines, whether in a hospital ward or local GP surgery.

'This guidance makes it all the clearer which doctor has responsibility for these medicines so that patients can be assured of receiving the best treatment and care.'

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