MDDUS is advising GPs to avoid issuing longer repeat prescriptions in the run up to Brexit and to liaise closely with pharmacists if there are concerns over shortages of specific drugs.
If all GPs prescribed greater quantities then that would increase the risk of a shortage of medication. Whilst concerns may exist regarding specific patients, it is important to consider the wider issue of supply and whether, for some patients, a short-term clinically appropriate alternative drug may be indicated.
We would advise GPs not to alter their prescribing habits and not to be pressurised by patients into prescribing greater quantities of repeat medicines. However, GPs must also comply with their obligation to raise concerns in line with the GMC’s guidance Raising and acting on concerns where they are concerned that inadequate resources may put a patient at risk.
Each prescriber takes responsibility for the prescriptions they issue, so doctors must be prepared to explain and justify their decisions and actions when prescribing, administering and managing medicines. The GMC guidance Prescribing and managing medicines and devices states: "Whether you prescribe with repeats or on a one-off basis, you must make sure that suitable arrangements are in place for monitoring, follow-up and review, taking account of the patients’ needs and any risks arising from the medicines".
If GPs continue to have particular concerns regarding specific patients/drugs, including short-term substitute drugs, then they should discuss these issues with the pharmacy lead of the CCG/health board.
- John Holden is a medical adviser and joint head of medical division at MDDUS