In England, the NHS primary care system dispenses over 1 billion prescription items every year. As more people live longer with multiple long-term health conditions, the number of medicines they take often increases. This can create a significant burden for the person trying to manage multiple medicine regimes, and in some cases it can cause harm.
Problematic polypharmacy adds a cost to the healthcare system and diminishes quality care for the patient – and most of this is entirely preventable.
The AHSN Network national polypharmacy programme is creating clinical, multi-stakeholder communities of practice across England, hosted by regional AHSNs, focusing on problematic polypharmacy within local areas.
Through a series of national webinars, education and training, the programme is also supporting routine use of the NHSBSA Polypharmacy Prescribing Comparators to identify and prioritise patients for shared decision making structured medication reviews.
Training through evidence-based polypharmacy Action Learning Sets (ALS) are being rolled out across England to support GPs, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals who undertake prescribing or medication reviews to understand the complex issues around stopping inappropriate medicines safely.
We are also working with patients and the public to drive regional testing and evaluation of public-facing initiatives to change public perceptions of prescriptions, and encouraging patients to be open about their medicine concerns and expectations.