NHS England has appointed Tony Avery, a GP based in Nottingham, as its first national clinical director for prescribing.
The appointment fulfils a recommendation made in the ‘National overprescribing review‘, led by Keith Ridge, former chief pharmaceutical officer for England.
Avery is also professor of primary health care at the University of Nottingham and has led several major studies into the causes of prescribing safety problems in the NHS.
In 2012, his team developed the the ‘Pharmacist-led Information Technology Intervention for Medication Errors’ — or PINCER — project, which was rolled out nationally to general practices in England to tackle hazardous prescribing from 2018.
Ridge’s overprescribing review, which was published in September 2021, revealed that 10% of items dispensed through primary care in England were either inappropriate for patients’ circumstances, or could have been better served with alternative treatments.
It also called for more research to be done to investigate the reasons why the global issue of overprescribing is more likely to affect people from ethnic minority communities and people with disabilities.
In his new job, Avery will be focusing on ensuring the prescribing of medicines reflects the needs of the diverse population in England, improves health outcomes and protects the environment.
Avery said: “I’m delighted to be taking on the newly-created role at such an important time for the NHS.
“Through really understanding how we can reduce unnecessary medicines prescribing, there’s a huge prize to be gained in improving the health and daily lives of millions of people, and protecting our environment.”
David Webb, chief pharmaceutical officer for England, said: “With 15% of people taking five or more medicines a day, more needs to be done to listen to patients and help clinical teams to tackle overprescribing, and I look forward to working with Tony and colleagues to deliver on these recommendations.”
Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society English Pharmacy Board, said the appointment would support patient safety and improve health outcomes.
“I look forward to working with Tony in his new role to ensure people get the best from their medicines and care.”
Avery was awarded an OBE in the 2022 New Year’s Honours list.