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Monday 24th October 2016

Helping GPs to help patients

7th July 2009

Dr Simon Fradd, chairman of Concordia Health and former chairman of the Doctor Patient Partnership, argues that there is more that NICE can do to help doctors help their patients.


The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence regularly publishes guidance papers, such as the crucial CG69: respiratory tract infections providing guidance to GPs on the appropriate use of antibiotics for a range of minor ailments.

It offers me guidance on when I should be prescribing antibiotics for minor illnesses and when I should be recommending alternative treatments but it fails to provide me with anything to help me persuade patients that I’m following best practice guidelines by not giving antibiotics for their ear infection, for example.

Because we have been overprescribing for years, patients expect a prescription.

I can talk to them about the reduced efficacy of antibiotics, about their unwanted side effects or that ailments can get better just as well with other treatments or reassure them that it is normal to have a cold for some 10 days.

But in my experience, we are not getting the message across to patients.

I need something that explains this to patients, that they can keep for future reference and something that will show that not getting a prescription is actually “a positive outcome.”

Patients need to know when they need my advice or whether they can get it online or from the pharmacy.

Effective communication is critical, such as through a relevant leaflet, and in this respect, I call on NICE to “put their money where their mouth is.”


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