Prescribing a medicine is the most common intervention after an NHS consultation. When used appropriately, medicines are important to manage symptoms, improve outcomes and prevent adverse outcomes for many patients living with long term conditions.

Overprescribing is the use of a medicine where there is a better non-medicine alternative, or the use is not best suited for the individual patient’s circumstances and wishes. When medicines are overprescribed, they can lead to poor patient outcomes and harm, health inequalities, medicines wastage, financial inefficiencies, and a negative impact on the environment.

  • 1 in 5 prescriptions for older people living at home may be inappropriate
  • A person taking 10 or more medicines is 300% more likely to be admitted to hospital because of an adverse drug reaction
  • People living in the most deprived areas are 2.8 times more likely to be taking 8 or more medicines
  • Up to 50% of medicines for long term conditions are not taken as intended

Overprescribing is a complex problem caused and driven by multiple, interdependent factors.

In September 2021, a 3-year national program was launched to coordinate the implementation of the 20 cross-system recommendations of the National Overprescribing Review Report (NOR report). This report acknowledged that Integrated Care Systems (ICS) can leverage the opportunities of integrated and collaborative working to deliver system wide solutions to tackle overprescribing, improving population health, reducing inequalities and improving productivity.

Overprescribing programme for south east London

Our vision is to ensure that that people in South East London are only prescribed medicines when there are no alternative treatments, and the medicines are best suited for their individual circumstances and wishes.

The South East London Overprescribing Programme draws from the experience of stakeholders across the system, and seeks to:

  • address the complex, interdependent factors that drive overprescribing
  • tackle the weaknesses in our prescribing systems
  • build on existing best practice models
  • challenge the existing culture in healthcare that leads to overprescribing

Five priority areas were identified to enable this programme:

Transfer of care

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Patient-centred structured medication reviews

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Health Inequalities

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Patient and community engagement

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South East London Integrated Care System

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