The World Health Organisation has highlighted the irrational use of medicines as a major problem worldwide. It estimates that more than half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and that half of all patients fail to take them correctly.
Why are we doing it?
Problematic polypharmacy is used to describe when people experience problems either in the number of medicines that they are taking or clinical challenges around the combination of medicines that they are taking, or both. As we are living longer with more chronic and long-term diseases, it is becoming increasingly common for people to experience problematic polypharmacy. Polypharmacy simply means many medicines on a long-term basis and problematic polypharmacy is an ongoing and growing challenge for the NHS.
What’s happening in Wessex?
In 2018, Wessex AHSN hosted its first series of Action Learning Sets (based on work by Yorkshire and Humber AHSN) aimed at helping GPs to understand the complex issues surrounding stopping inappropriate medicines safely. More specifically, topics such as the risks of polypharmacy for our ageing population, cognitive barriers to stopping medicines safely, shared decision-making and how it can help are covered during the ALS. In time, the Active Learning Sets seek to also help PCNs deliver the Medicines Optimisation elements of the new GP QOF contract.
Each ALS is split up into three sessions which typically run over two months with facilitators from the region such as local geriatricians and NICE associates. Delegates are required to attend all three sessions and complete homework in-between. ALS sessions are advertised locally and delegates are encouraged to attend according to their local geography. If you are interested in finding out more or, have attended an event recently, please contact a member of the WAHSN team directly.
In conjunction with the Centre for Implementation Science and the University of Southampton, Wessex AHSN and Health Education England – South are evaluating our ALS with a view to rolling out this methodology across England. In 2020 HEE will be delivering 3 ALS offerings to 3 geographies in the South. Visit our Events page or the HEE – South for more information.
For information on the NHS BSA Polypharmacy Prescribing Comparators see here.