Pharmacy has a ‘vital role’ in protecting patients against medication-related risks, the General Phamaceutical Council said in response to Jeremy Hunt’s announcement of a new initiative tackling prescribing errors.

Tackling prescribing errors

Writing in the Health Service Journal, Mr Hunt said: “Up to one in 12 prescriptions may include a mistake and whilst we’re lucky most don’t cause harm to patients, there is more we can do to tackle the problem and make the NHS safer.

“That’s why I’ve launched a new scheme working with the NHS to reduce these errors and protect patients.”

Speaking at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s annual conference, pharmacy minister Steve Brine that Mr Hunt was working with NHS England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge to devise a strategy for reducing prescribing errors.

Mr Brine said: “Studies currently indicate that up to eight per cent of prescriptions have a mistake in dosage level, course length or medication type – a risk which the WHO identifies as a ‘leading cause of injury and avoidable harm in healthcare systems around the world.’”

Educating patients about their medicines will be key to the Department of Health’s initiative, Mr Brine said, as will reviewing the safe transfer of information between care settings.

GPhC chief executive Duncan Rudkin said: “The GPhC welcomes this initiative to explore ways to improve medication safety still further. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians play a vital role in ensuring the safe supply of medicines, but also in working with patients, carers and other healthcare professionals to guard against a range of medication-related risks, including those to do with prescribing.

“We look forward to learning more about NHS England’s plans and how our work with the pharmacy profession and other regulators can complement this important initiative.”

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