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Department of Health written question – answered on 7th November 2014.

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Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what estimate he has made of the (a) number of lives saved and (b) cost savings that could be made through a reduction in prescribing errors.

Photo of Nicholas Dakin Nicholas Dakin Opposition Whip (Commons)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, whether his Department has any plans to strengthen the training of (a) clinicians and (b) nurses to reduce prescribing errors.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

NHS England published a Patient Safety Alert on 20 March 2014 on improving medication error incident reporting and learning. This cited research on medication error rates in medicine, including prescribing error rates of:

- 7% of prescription items in hospitals; and

- 5% of prescriptions in general practice of which 0.18% were severe errors.

There is limited research to quantify actual harm arising from prescribing errors, many of which are picked up by pharmacists at the dispensing stage.

Significant investment has been made by the Department, Health Education England and NHS Education for Scotland over the last four years in the development of a National Prescribing Safety Assessment. This is a joint initiative by the Medical Schools Council and the British Pharmacological Society involving the United Kingdom’s leading experts in prescribing, clinical pharmacology and medical assessment. It is intended to enhance patient safety by ensuring that all new graduates entering the first year of Foundation training have achieved a basic standard of practice.

It is the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s (NMC) role to ensure that nurse and midwife prescribers provide an appropriate level of treatment and care for their patients. The NMC does this by setting standards to ensure that nurses and midwives are competent to prescribe drugs, and by making sure that their knowledge and skills in prescribing remain up-to-date.

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