Women taking the contraceptive pill should be given repeat 12-month prescriptions, rather than three or six months’ worth of supplies, guidance from leading doctors has said.
The recommendation is included as one of 50 tests, procedures and treatments that doctors believe have little or no value, and could be replaced with simpler or more effective alternatives.
The recommendations are included in the second tranche of the Choosing Wisely UK scheme, run by the Academy of Medical Royal College, and they include advice that not all patients with simple respiratory tract infections will need antibiotics, and that everyone should take vitamin D supplements over the winter to reduce the risk of colds and flu, not just children and older people.
The scheme, part of a global initiative run by clinicians and backed by patient watchdog Healthwatch England, aims to avoid tests, treatments and procedures that are unlikely to be of benefit; give patients a greater say in their care, and it could save the NHS huge amouns of money each year.
Writing in The Pharmaceutical Journal, Sue Bailey, who leads the Academy’s work on Choosing Wisely, and cardiologist Aseem Malhotra, said that with a greater emphasis on community care, pharmacists must also have a role in helping patients to have “a better understanding of the medications they are taking when collecting prescriptions and also to reduce the potentially harmful effects of polypharmacy”.
They added that it was “time to enter a new era in healthcare to produce better healthcare professionals, better patients and better decisions, where shared decision-making is the most important outcome that matters when it comes to evidence-based practice”.
The most recent recommendations, announced in June 2018, have been added to an existing list of 40 produced in the first wave of the campaign in 2016.