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College of Medicine launches Beyond Pills campaign to tackle overprescribing in UK health system

Led by a group of healthcare leaders and senior politicians, the campaign advocates represcribing and the promotion of social prescribing

Beyond Pills

A group of leading doctors has launched the Beyond Pills campaign, calling on the government to tackle overprescribing in the UK health system by advocating represcribing and social prescribing.

Launched by the College of Medicine, the campaign echoes the recommendations made in the National Overprescribing Review published in September 2021 by the UK government.

Led by a group of healthcare leaders and senior politicians – including Dr Michael Dixon (chair of the College of Medicine), Lord Crisp (chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health) and Stephen Dorrell (former secretary of state for Health & Social Care) – the campaign aims to reduce drug prescription, expand the number of social prescribing link workers, save crucial funds, and provide support to individuals and local communities hampered by health inequalities.

Social prescribing is a way for local agencies to refer people to a link worker, who encourages patients to participate actively in their own health or, in some cases, take a holistic approach to their health and well-being. Link workers work with patients to co-design a social, non-medical, community-based intervention in order to address specific issues and long-term health conditions.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Dr Michael Dixon, chair of the College of Medicine, said: “Medicine, as we know it, is no longer affordable or sustainable. Nor is it able to curb the increase in obesity, mental health problems and most long-term diseases... An adjustment to the system now will provide a long-term, sustainable solution for the NHS to meet the ever-increasing demand for funding and healthcare professionals.”

As part of the Review, former chief pharmaceutical officer for England, Dr Keith Ridge, found that 10% of prescription items dispensed through primary care are either inappropriate for patients’ needs or that they ‘could be better served with alternative treatments’.

The Review also found that 15% of the population take more than five separate medicines daily, and 1 in 5 hospital admissions for those over 65 is due to an adverse drug reaction.

Dr Bogdan Chiva Giurca, College of Medicine Council member and founder of NHS Social Prescribing Champion Scheme, said: “As a young doctor, social prescribing link workers provide hope to me and my colleagues who are unable to support the ever-growing psychological, social, emotional and practical needs of our dear patients.

"A truly biopsychosocial approach is needed more than ever and our aim is that by 2030, young healthcare students and newly qualified healthcare professionals will have access to education and guidelines not only regarding deprescribing, but also providing knowledge of new tools that they can readily use, such as social prescribing.”

Article by
Emily Kimber

16th June 2022

From: Healthcare

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