Half of patients over 75 should be on fewer medicines, warn GPs

GPs believe half of their patients over 75 would benefit from taking fewer medicines and many fear that older patients are not taking their medicines as prescribed six months after consultation, a survey shows.

Almost eight in 10 (79%) GPs said they were not confident that their older patients, aged 75 or older, on four or more medicines were still taking their medicines correctly six months after consultation, according to a report by the community pharmacist campaign group Pharmacy Voice.

Around 50% of patients over 75 would benefit from taking fewer medicines than they currently do, GP respondents said.

The Dispensing Health in Later Life report called for GP and pharmacy organisations to work together ‘with some urgency’ to improve collaborative working and help patients manage their medicines.

It also called for pharmacists to be given the power to add information to patients’ summary care records (SCRs), which are based on patients' GP records.

Polypharmacy

The government has committed to providing all community pharmacies read-only access to SCRs by autumn 2017, but Pharmacy Voice said this should be ‘rapidly followed’ with the ability to update them.

Over a third of the 5.1m people aged 75 or older take more than four medicines, and the age group is estimated to account for at least 45% of the annual £8.9bn NHS prescription cost.

GP Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, said: ‘While there are many reasons why older people need to take a number of medicines, we are nowhere near quantifying the effects of taking multiple medicines concurrently, especially in older patients.

‘Many are confused by the sheer numbers of medicines they have been prescribed, and their health and quality of life is adversely affected when these medicines fail to treat the underlying condition because they are not taken correctly.

GPs and community pharmacists

‘Community pharmacy teams are well placed to undertake regular medicines use reviews, but the exact delivery must be worked through carefully with general practice colleagues to make sure our older patients aren’t sent round the houses, and are advised by the right health professional, at the right time, and in the right place.’

Professor Rob Darracott, Pharmacy Voice chief executive, said: ‘Community pharmacy and general practice are increasingly working more closely together, helping relieve some of the extreme pressures on GPs. We would like to develop that collaboration further.

‘Community pharmacy teams can already provide Medicine Use Reviews but awareness is low. In a year’s time, we would like to be in a position where GPs are actively encouraging older people to access their community pharmacy regularly to help with their medicines management and we have reviewed the current cap on medicine use reviews.’

Photo: JH Lancy

Read Dispensing Health in Later Life

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Syringe extracting COVID-19 vaccine from vial

GP practices may need legal advice over mandatory COVID-19 jabs

GP practices 'may wish to seek individual HR and legal advice' on how to implement...

GP Job of the Week logo

GP Job of the Week: Salaried GP, Maidstone, Kent

The Mote Medical Practice in Maidstone, Kent is looking for a salaried GP to work...

Large letters reading RCGP

Most GPs fear impact of heavy workload on patient care this winter, RCGP poll shows

Three quarters of GPs fear growing workload pressure will undermine their ability...

Stethoscope on desk

Why a successful Northumberland practice is sticking by its decision not to join a PCN

After choosing not to join a primary care network back in 2019, a popular Northumberland...

How locum GPs should handle patient complaints

MDU medico-legal adviser Dr Kathryn Leask explains the particular challenges for...

Close up of a man turning off a light switch

GP's online carbon calculator helps practices cut emissions and save money

A Yorkshire GP has developed an online calculator that is helping practices to reduce...