The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) have been commissioned by NHS England to develop tools and guidance for use in primary care to improve repeat prescribing.

The toolkit will aim to reduce overprescribing by improving the consistency of repeat prescribing processes and by providing training resources for clinicians.

The RPS and RCGP will bring together a working group to create the guidance in time for publication in May 2024.

The group will be co-chaired by RPS fellow Clare Howard, clinical lead for the Academic Health Science Network Polypharmacy Programme and Dr Michael Mulholland, honorary secretary of the RCGP.

And healthcare professionals will be consulted on the draft toolkit as it is developed.

The working group will also create a plan to help GP practices and pharmacies implement the guidance, as well as assessing the impact of the toolkit on patient care.

Ms Howard highlighted the opportunity for the toolkit to minimise risks associated with repeat prescribing and polypharmacy.

She said: ‘We prescribe and dispense well over one billion prescription items in England in primary care and over 75% of those items are repeat prescriptions.

‘The vast majority of medicines are prescribed and dispensed safely, but we know from the evidence that there are risks in our systems and as these systems get busier, with more and more people on multiple medicines, we need to ensure that our processes are both safe for our patients and efficient for our primary care workforce.’

She said that the toolkit would help GP practices and PCNs to understand where there might be risks in their local arrangements, and how to address them.

She also said that the standardised guidance would help to ensure systems are run safely and reduce unnecessary burdens on clinical staff.

Dr Tony Avery, GP and Professor of primary health care at the University of Nottingham and national clinical director for prescribing at NHS England said: ‘Having medicines on repeat prescription makes life easier for patients, general practices and community pharmacies, but problems and waste can occur if the repeat prescription process is not designed well, or if patients’ medicines are not reviewed on a regular basis.’

He added that the guidance and training resources would ‘ensure that repeat prescribing systems work well for patients and NHS primary care teams, reduce inefficiency and waste and, most importantly, keep patients safe’.

How can repeat prescribing be improved?

Give your views on how repeat prescribing could be improved, or share examples of best practice, by heading to the RPS website or emailing [email protected]